I Hate Valentine's Day Nia Vardalos

I Hate Valentine's Day Nia Vardalos
So many reviews of I Hate Valentine's Day focus on Nia Vardalos's strange perma-smile that I had hoped to be original by not mentioning it. After all, what right does a movie critic have to judge an actress's appearance? Alas, I have now seen the film and find I can no longer remain silent on the issue. Smothered in such heavy lighting that she appears to glow, Vardalos's grin is cartoonishly stiff in a way that calls to mind Jack Nicholson's Joker. She stars in this unsavory sitcom as a woman who ends every relationship after the fifth date, reasoning that this is the point when fun gives way to commitment headaches. If that sounds hateful and psychotic to you, well, you wouldn't be John Corbett, who happily falls for this narcissistic arrangement. Ah, but love inexplicably blooms, and the film's second half is an agonizing collection of pointless, repetitive scenes in which Vardalos and Corbett express their feelings to a precarious number of obnoxious, clichéd supporting characters while generally acting like self-absorbed idiots. One can almost sense Vardalos panting and wheezing as she tries to expand this 30-minute idea to feature-length. On the basis of this film, Vardalos is a shockingly inept director: every conversation has a rhythm-less shot, reverse shot dynamic that makes it appear as if the actors weren't there on the same day. New York is bereft of any atmosphere whatsoever (even genuine exteriors look like cheap sets), the cinematography and set design are eye-burningly garish, and Vardalos is tone-deaf at depicting the passage of time. As for her writing, how would you react if I told you that she gives herself two — count 'em — two flamboyantly gay best friends, along with a seemingly endless supply of kooky non-characters who exist only to answer to her every beck and call? I don't want to hold up My Big Fat Greek Wedding as a paragon for cinematic excellence, but Vardalos was a likeable actress, and behind the barrage of ethnic shtick was a certain ring of truth. We could sense Vardalos knew what she was talking about. This lobotomized effort is romantic comedy pandering at its worst. DVD extras are limited to a theatrical trailer. (E1)