Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Swift, Julia Roberts celebrate star-studded “Valentine’s Day” Blu-ray release

BY SEAN O’CONNELL stays on top of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases so you know which films are worth your time and money. This week, we review:

Valentine’s Day (Blu-ray)

Something special happens when Garry Marshall works with Julia Roberts. Audience members turn out in droves! The director’s three highest-grossing films all star the A-list actress: “Pretty Woman” ($178 million), “Runaway Bride” ($152 million), and now “Valentine’s Day” ($110 million). The last one arrives on Blu-ray DVD this week.

The magnetic redhead – with her trademark radiant smile – is but one small piece of this unwieldy concoction that tracks a small army of Angelinos falling in and out of love on Valentine’s Day. Florist Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher) has a finger in almost half of the loosely associated storylines. Not only does he propose to his wishy-washy girlfriend (Jessica Alba), but countless characters conveniently pop in and out of Reed’s L.A. shop, helping link subplots that would have a hard time intersecting if “Valentine’s Day” were set in a phone booth.

Marshall’s casting almost distracts from Katherine Fugate’s sloppy writing. I still can’t figure out how Jennifer Garner’s character boards a plane for San Francisco intent on surprising her lover (Patrick Dempsey, playing yet another smarmy, cheating sleazeball) yet never leaves Los Angeles. The nurse she speaks to at her “destination” confirms she’s in Los Angeles. In the very next scene, Garner’s on her cell phone telling her best friend she’s still in L.A. How does a plot hole that massive make it through final edits? Either Marshall doesn’t care, or he assumes the audience won’t.

Perhaps this is wishful thinking on my part, but had the star-studded “Valentine’s Day” lived up to its full potential, it could have become the next “Nashville” or “Short Cuts.” No doubt the late, great Robert Altman would have figured out how to gracefully maneuver his capable cast through their preconditioned hoops without relying on preposterous coincidences or hiding behind hackneyed plotting. Instead on an interlocking tapestry of passion and romance, however, “Valentine’s Day” ends up being the modern-day equivalent of a “Love Boat” episode, caring only about matchmaking its roster of able A-listers regardless of practicality or common sense.

Warner’s Blu-ray should satisfy fans of the film (and there are plenty of you out there). Marshall contributes a director’s commentary track, while the cast — which includes Bradley Cooper, Anne Hathaway, Topher Grace, George Lopez, and Shirley MacLaine — dishes on their best and worst Valentine’s Day stories. There’s a blooper reel, and a look at what’s called “The Garry Factor.” And for “Sex and the City” fans, Warner has included an exclusive look at the latest trailer for the anticipated sequel, as well as additional scenes.

Finally, Warner includes a digital copy of “Valentine’s Day” for your portable devices.

The Movie – *1/2 out of 4
The Blu-ray – *** out of 4


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