I Hate Valentine's Day - 2 Stars (Average)
Nia Vardalos is not the first budding presence in Hollywood whose ambition has now exceeded her talent.
Vardalos, who burst onto the screen in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", was not only the star of the most successful independent film in history (Tom Hanks banked the film with $5 million and it racked up worldwide revenue of $368 million), but also wrote the screenplay.
I loved My Big Fat Green Wedding - it still ranks among my Top 20 Most Favorite Films ever.
After viewing "I Hate Valentine's Day", I could not believe that Nia Vardalos wrote the script - it was awful when pitted against My Big Fat Greek Wedding. There were no great comedic moments, and the film dragged on at a pace slower than peanut butter sliding off a PB+J sandwich.
The plot finds a florist, Genevieve (Nia Vardalos), persuading a new restaurant owner, Greg (John Corbett), to take a chance on a no-strings-attached relationship involving only 5 dates before it ends.
Genevieve doesn't believe that long-term relationships work; worse yet, she is a happy, incurable optimist who loves Valentine's Day - that is, until she dates and falls for Greg. The problem is compounded when Greg falls even harder for her.
To save face, both Genevieve and Greg can't admit they want it to continue, and so the movie finds these two manufacturing reasons why neither cannot contact the other in order to continue what both of them want - a long-term relationship.
Vardalos, not content with being the star and writing the screenplay for the movie, now decides she must also direct this disappointing film, which I generously rate as average when it is not even average among the average romantic comedies I have reviewed.
Nia, please give it a rest. Your stock falls with this offering. I did not really enjoy your film and, unfortunately, many others did not either. I could spend another 500 words on what the script lacked, but why bother.
Like sports, it is much harder to defend a world championship than to win a world championship. Duplicating My Big Fat Greek Wedding will be much harder than making the original — and adding the directing component makes it even less so.
Nia Vardalos now joins a not-so-exclusive club of fellow writer/directors who have fallen short.
They include Kimberly Peirce for Boys Don't Cry (terrible rating), Vanessa Parise for Kiss the Bride (average rating), Peter Weir for Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World (average rating), Thomas Bezucha for The Family Stone (average rating), Michael McGowan for Saint Ralph (average rating), Jared Hess for Napoleon Dynamite (terrible rating), Robert Rodriguez for Once Upon a Time in Mexico (terrible rating), and Paul Thomas Anderson for Punch-Drunk Love (terrible rating).
The worst of these efforts was Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love.
When you want to see a great writer/director effort, check out Tim McCanlies in "Secondhand Lions" (a fabulous job of storytelling), or Kirk Jones in "Waking Ned Devine (a superb effort that I rate as the funniest comedy I have ever seen).
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