An alternately kooky and kinky comedy about the impossibility of establishing a science of romance, I Hate Valentine’s Day like the temptations of its topic on hand, is unbearably flaky but hard to resist. And inevitably as problematic in imposing a formula for love as indulging in a circular narrative that’s a tad too formulaic as well.
At the heart, so to speak, of this off-season tale, is director, writer and star Nia Vardolos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Genevieve, the control freak owner of a busy Brooklyn flower shop. Convinced that relationships are for dummies, Genevieve has carved out an inflexible dating routine where only five dates of blissful romance are allowed per boyfriend. And then it’s curtain time, no exceptions, before disappointment, pain and boredom can set in.
Genevieve, besides being fanatically commitment-phobic, is also the sort of woman who gives back with gusto any sexist remarks tossed her way on the street. And never too shy to shout back at any random rude male, that he’s got an awfully nice butt too. She’s also fond of basking nostalgically in the memory of her multiple five-date whirlwind affairs, bragging about stuff like being possibly the only female on the planet who’s had her name peed into the snow by an infatuated temporary lover.
So life would seem to be an emotional cinch for Genevieve. That is, until she meets her exact opposite in Greg (Sex And The City hunk, John Corbett), a sulking, repeat loser in love who’s just opened a bistro down the street. Greg is the kind of guy who tends to get dumped via fax, or left by a girlfriend for a clown instead. And when Genevieve lets Greg know that she’s ‘open for wooing,’ but like Cinderella there’s a time limit though no pumpkin at the end of the road, romance blossoms. Though with more than a few unscheduled but predictable surprises in store.
I Hate Valentine’s Day is salvaged from its small screen sitcomish attitude by the enormous warmth and vivacious personality of Vardolos, even when in pretend tyrant mode. Also providing a tremendous amount of delightfully quirky character ambiance, is a solid offbeat ensemble cast of nutty neighborhood pals, including Rachel Dratch as a comparatively more conservative ‘waiting to be wooed’ best friend.
2 1/2 stars