There are 19 all-star names above the title (in alphabetical order, naturally) but the lead belongs to Ashton Kutcher. A nice-guy florist, he proposes to his work-addict girlfriend (Jessica Alba), but is obviously much better suited to his teacher best friend (Jennifer Garner). Jessica Biel (is it me, or are the Jessicas interchangeable?) plays a neurotically single sports publicist. Anne Hathaway, an office temp who moonlights as a phone sex operator (little nod to ‘Short Cuts’ there), hasn’t told her new boyfriend about the sideline. Shirley MacLaine, happily married for 50 years, is keeping an old secret from her husband. In what reeks of final-draft add-on, country star Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner from ‘The Twilight Saga’ pair up as school sweethearts: no actual storyline here, but they tick the pre-teen box big time.
These are sassily-scripted but glossy, vacuous fantasies – with the exception of Julia Roberts’s army captain, who’s on short leave from Iraq and meets a guy (Bradley Cooper) on a plane: after some sparky but non-committal flight banter they go their separate ways and both their tales resolve with unexpectedly lovely flourishes. Their stories make the rest of the film look like it’s got a cold, shiny cash register right where its heart should be.