Valentine’s Day can be a polarizing topic of conversation. Some are bitter they do not have someone with whom to share the greeting card-stuffed, flowery holiday. Some ignore it. Some actually have a significant other and thus embark in all the cutesy, heart-filled stereotypes associated with the day.
Regardless, it’s a “holiday” weekend, which always means at least a few movies have been held until that release date. This year’s lineup is an odd mixture of genres and releases. Only two are national releases, while there are several other limited releases scheduled. The limited releases seem to be limited for a reason — in particular, a lack of originality or solid plot — so let’s just break down the top three candidates for your Valentine’s Day weekend trip to the movie theater.
The Last Five Years
Plot: Based on the off-Broadway musical by Jason Robert Brown, the story follows the five-year relationship between Jamie (Jeremy Jordan), a rising novelist, and Cathy (Anna Kendrick), a struggling actress. However, Cathy’s perspective is told in reverse chronological order, starting at the end of their relationship, while Jamie’s is told chronologically, starting when they meet.
Thoughts: I have been anxiously awaiting this film for quite some time. Jason Robert Brown is a beloved musical theater composer, lyricist and playwright. This work is particularly touching, for it tells a tragic love story with all the highs and lows of a true relationship. The music is hauntingly brilliant. The trailer splendidly gave us a taste of a few songs, but I can’t wait to hear Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan’s vocals for the entire score. Kendrick’s opening lines of “Still Hurting” have stuck with me ever since I first watched the trailer two months ago and still cut just as deep into my soul. As a musical theater fanatic, it’s one of my most anticipated films of the year so far. Sadly, it’s only in limited release. So if it’s available in your area, give it a chance. You won’t regret introducing yourself to this superb composer’s work.
Fifty Shades of Grey
Plot: An erotic romance story following the relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and young business mogul Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).
Thoughts: The phrase “everyone and their mother” is actually applicable in this context, because literally everyone and their mother is talking about this film and this series. I’ve never read the series, and personally I will never feel inclined to do so. Thus, the reason for its popularity escapes me. Despite my sincere lack of interest in the books, I for some reason wouldn’t mind seeing this film partially because I want to understand the hype more and be in on the conversation, and partially because Jamie Dornan is smoking hot. The film does get props for perfectly pairing Beyoncé’s slower version of “Crazy in Love” with its trailer. I get unwarrantedly excited when the trailer comes on just because I love listening to this rendition of the hit song. Nevertheless, I’m not a fan of the material and will admittedly go into the theater incredibly skeptical. You should too.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Plot: An action spy film that depicts veteran secret agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) training street kid Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) to become his spy protégé just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius (Samuel L. Jackson).
Thoughts: The film is based on a comic book, so a high level of creativity and freshness is there in the story and in the action — both evidenced by the trailer. But the genre title states exactly what this film will be: action and spies. It’s hard to see this transcending into anything more than just another action flick that will rely on fight scenes and explosions to capture the audience’s attention. It’s supposed to be the action counter to “romantic” Fifty Shades of Grey, however I seriously doubt it will draw in a large crowd. Plus, fantasy films Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son open the week before the holiday and will serve as further — and in terms of Jupiter Ascending, better — alternates to the traditional love trope of Valentine’s Day movies.
It’s honestly quite surprising more films aren’t being released this Valentine’s Day weekend. Where are all the rom-coms I love to bash on? Are there no more Nicholas Sparks books to adapt? Did all the other films see Fifty Shades’ release date and scatter? Its monopoly on the weekend’s box office is likely but also disheartening for the moviegoers who desire quality and choice, not adaptations born out of a moneymaking scheme.