– Summary –
Director : Garry Marshall
Year Of Release : 2011
Principal Cast : Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, John Lithgow, Robert DeNiro, Halle Berry, Cary Elwes, Alyssa Milano, Common, Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers, Sarah Paulson, Til Schweiger, Carla Gugino, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Sofia Vergara, Russell Peters, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michelle, Jim Belushi, Sarah Jessica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Jake T Austin, Mara Davi, Josh Duhamel, Joey McIntyre, Yeardley Smith, Jack McGee, Hilary Swank, Hector Elizondo, Matthew Broderick, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Kathleen Marshall, Greg Wilson, Michael Bloomberg, Ryan Seacrest.
Approx Running Time : 118 Minutes
Synopsis: A bunch of people try to make it to Times Square on New Years Eve to make their dreams come true. Or something.
What we think : Cloying, insincere, derivative junk designed to appeal to a singular demographic – people who think this kind of film is the shit, instead of just shit – that makes New York City look like the only city on Earth and the people in it the most loving, kind and gentle examples of humanity ever seen throughout human history. New Years Eve is a reprehensible film, written by committee, designed by Mr Product Placement, and populated by a slew of A-list actors who should know better. Robert DeNiro I can understand – he hasn’t made a good film in about a decade, and all he’s asked to do here is lie down in bed – but Hilary Swank? Halle Berry? Michelle Pfeiffer? An awful, abominable thing purporting to be a “movie”, this is one resolution you’re best letting go.
If you want to understand how little quality control there is in this movie, just look up there at the “principal cast” roster, and you’ll notice just how many big name actors there are, shoehorned into this dreck. Obviously, with so many A-listers vying for screen time, actual character, story and narrative eloquence are nowhere to be found within a frame of this obvious, obnoxiously saccharine love-letter to New York City, leaving the near-2-hour runtime to drag onwards, upwards, ever hopeful of a glimmer of a laugh. Garry Marshall’s effusive direction and neon-infused lighting is the kind of film you’d rather have an internal exam than watch. Gleefully trite, preposterously cliched and improbably cornball, New Years Eve is a film of singularly miniscule vision, a film so bereft of inherent happiness you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as a sequel to Requiem For A Dream. I hated this film with almost every fiber of my being.
A bunch of Hollywood A-listers playing supposedly “real” characters in and around New York City attempt to get their affairs in order before the clock strikes midnight (or the famous glittering ball drops onto a building, as the case is here) on New Years Eve, that magical evening where all the worlds problems supposedly wash away in the glare of drunken stupidity and interpersonal clusterf@ckery. A bevvy of inane, derivative characters must overcome all manner of inane, derivative social and personal problems to have that happy moment at midnight, as Times Square comes alive in a cacophony of Auld Lang Syne and smashing beer bottles. Watch as Katherine Heigl pretends to be a chef pretending to be in love with rocker Bon Jovi. Watch Michelle Pfeiffer attempt to ugly-up for Zac Efron’s muscular messenger boy as he whisks her on a tour of New York. Watch as Hilary Swank fumbles her career in search of the answer to why the Times Square Ball mysteriously gets stuck half-way up the pole, and refuses to come down. Watch Jessica Biel and Sarah Paulson spend an entire film trying to give birth on a stopwatch, aided by the execrable Til Schweiger and the inane Seth Meyers. Watch Robert DeNiro nutshell his career as a dying elderly man whose only remaining bucket list entry is to watch the ball drop one last time (because when you’re dying, asking for one last blowjob is apparently not the done thing). Watch Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michelle spend a film in an elevator, pretending not to hate each other. Watch Sarah Jessica Parker be the world’s most insecure mother, and Abigail Breslin as her demanding, reproachably overbearing daughter. And watch the improbable casting of Sofia Vergara as a sous chef, that enormous set of boobs casting a very long shadow inside one of New York’s most prestigious restaurants.
New Years Eve represents the very worst of Hollywood cinema. Masquerading as a feel-good soft-focus tour of New York and its representative denizens, New Years Eve is, in actuality, one of the most horrid, insipid, terrifyingly uninspired wastes of time you’ll see in your lifetime. Director Garry Marshall, the man who gave us Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, and who made every woman’s uterus contract at the end of Beaches, has assembled what could only be Hollywood’s version of the Harlem Globetrotters for this film, with what appears to be every single A-lister from 2011 appearing in one form or another. Hell, he even cast Katherine Heigl, which might show you how close to the bottom of the barrel he got. The problem with a film built on its star-wattage cast is that it comes at the expense of story; this doesn’t seem to have troubled screenwriter Katerine Fugate, who must have simply given up trying to get any emotional range into this script thanks to an overabundance of contrived, ridiculously unbelievable “storylines”.
It’s one of those “interwoven storylines” films, a little like Love Actually only without the faintest hint of heart or soul. About the only soul in this film was mine, as Marshall’s shockingly unimportant directorial style attempted to suck it from my body. This film is a brainless, expectedly shiny and “captivating” love story to New York, which works best probably when it’s shown only in New York, because I doubt anyone else in the world really cares about the trials and tribulations of the characters within this movie. The interweaving of the characters doesn’t even feel organic (unlike Love Actually) in any way, as if Fugate simply drew a bunch of names out of a hat, and a bunch of relationship nouns out of another, and attempted to shoehorn them together via some of the most portentous, improbably lame ways. Fugate’s lack of ability to carve out decent characters – instead replacing them with generic, cliched clunkers – makes New Years Eve’s bulky running time even more uneven, in that at no point do we really feel anything for the faces on the screen. None of the characters resonate (or at least, none did with me), especially the Michelle Pfeiffer/Zac Efron storyline, which made me feel like taking a cold shower it was so creepy. And here I was expecting Katherine Heigl to be the worst part of it all. She isn’t (but she comes close).
With characters we can’t access, and a bunch of vapid, trite “moments” designed to fit snugly into a trailer or clip-show of Marshall’s work, New Years Eve is inexcusably derivative, awfully plotted and simply staggering in its lack of intention or focus, with a sharp sense of whimsy pummeled into submission by terrible humor, equally terrible performances (WTF was Hector Elizondo thinking?) and utterly lamentable direction. Perhaps had Marshall excised half the film’s subplots – the Pfeiffer/Efron one, the Sarah Jessica Parker/Abigail Breslin one, the Kutcher/Michelle one, and probably the Robert DeNiro one, at least – and bulked up the emotional content of the others, the film might have been better. But it’s too little spread too thin, leaving nothing to recommend by way of entertainment in this fireball of a miasma. No doubt everyone got paid, so good on them, but as a historical entry into Hollywood’s gnat-like attention span with pop-culture (as essayed by Lea Michelle’s then-white-hot star power allowing her to be in this movie) New Years Eve is stupefyingly awful in almost every conceivable way.
© 2014, Rodney Twelftree. All rights reserved.