NEW YEAR’S EVE (2011) – The Review
Seems that not that long ago holidays were almost the exclusive domain of horror flicks ( thanks in no small part to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic HALLOWEEN ). This extended to other calendar dates like certain Fridays and even birthdays. With the release last year of VALENTINE’S DAY the “rom-com” has decided to horn in on the cineplex action thanks to TV sitcom master ( his trifecta being ” Happy Days “, ” Laverne and Shirley ” and ” Mork and Mindy ” ) turned movie comic kingpin ( PRETTY WOMAN ) Gary Marshall. Now Mr. M has decided to take on another big ( usually romantic ) holiday with NEW YEAR’S EVE and once again he’s assembled another gang of big stars ( with two returnees from last year ). We’ve haven’t opened our presents under the tree yet ( some of us haven’t even begun shopping ), so is this early cinema offering a gift that we’ll revisit again and again?
Like the previous holiday flick, this is several stories intercut over the running time ( some share characters and settings ). Speaking of settings, this time NYC replaces LA ( a very mild winter Big Apple ). Let’s check them off! Hilary Swank is a city worker in charge of the big Times Square celebration ( including the dropping of the big ball ) who’s aided by good pal, policeman Chris ” Ludacris ” Bridges. One of the entertainers there is Jenson, played by real life rocker Jon Bon Jovi, who’s also singing at a big record company party catered by Katherine Heigl and her assistant Sofia Vergara. A put-upon worker at said record company, Michelle Pfieffer, quits and offers tickets to the big party to messenger Zac Efron if he can help her check items off her ” things to do list “. Zac’s brother is a cynical, New Year’s-hating cartoonist ( Ashton Kutcher ) trapped in his building’s elevator along with perky singer Lea Michelle, who’s on her way to sing back up with Jenson. At a hospital young parents-to-be Seth Meyers and Jessica Biel compete with another couple to collect the cash prize for the first birth of 2012. On another floor, nurse Halle Berry tends to a dying Robert DeNiro, who just wants to live long enough to see the 2011 become history. Sarah Jessica Parker is a harried single mother trying to track down teenage daughter Abigal Breslin who hopes to share her first kiss with that special boy at midnight in Times Square. Also racing into town in order to share a midnight kiss is Josh Duhamel, who encounters many obstacles ( and wacky characters ) on his way back from a Connecticut wedding. Whew, what a night!
Marshall does his best to juggle the many stories. Unfortunately he has to cut away from many plots just as the momentum starts building. And many of them would’ve been better left on the editing room floor, particularly those agonizing attempts at pathos. The DeNiro/Berry scenes really seem to slow things up while a turgid,televised speech by Swank grinds things to a complete halt ( really, the Times Square crowds are completely silent? Really? ). The script is very TV “sitcomy” with many obvious set-ups and punch lines. The big star list may be more a testament to the good will that Marshall engenders rather than the quality of the material. Still several of the more seasoned comedy pr0s wring some laughs especially SNL’s Meyers and Vergara ( her character here is an even more ethnic and hot-to-trot variation of her Gloria from TV’s ” Modern Family ” ). Many pairings just don’t have much of a spark ( the Kutcher/Michelle pairing is a bit creepy ). I was really disheartened that Pfieffer was saddled with a frumpy brown wig and doing another take on the pre-Catwoman Selina Kyle. Fortunately the film moves to another location and pairing very quickly. I breathed a sigh of relief that Heigl and Parker shared no scenes. I feared that the two queens of awful romcoms on-screen together might create some sort of cinema black hole. There is great use of NYC locations, but it’s not enough to recommend this cliche-ridden, cloying mess. Stick around for the end credits bloopers-they’re a lot funnier than what’s in the main film ( maybe you’ll get to be that funny in a comedy soon, Mr. DeNiro! ). Let’s hope this is the last holiday to get this big screen desecration from the Marshall gang ( I’m sure Hector Elizondo will still get plenty of work! ).
Overall Rating: One and a Half Out of Five Stars