The romantic comedy, NEW YEAR’S EVE, may be just the ticket for this end of year run of films. Not because it is well written, strongly acted, or even remotely creative. In fact it is none of those. In a season when most movies are heavily pushing to be Oscar contenders or award notable films it might be good to have one that simply does what it is meant to do – provide something for those looking for a forgettable time at the theater.
Director Garry Marshall follows up his 2010 film Valentine’s Day with this remarkably similar film set around a different holiday. It is full of dozens of well-known actors and flavors of the month, most of which have no more than a half page of dialogue. The story takes place in NY on New Year’s Eve and follows a handful of different couples and singles as they prepare for the nights events. As with Valentine’s Day they eventually all link together in what is supposed to be a clever and surprising way. But unlike Valentine’s Day this one had neither cleverness nor anything that wasn’t blatantly predictable. And that which wasn’t predictable was sadly disappointing.
To be fair you almost have to break down the different story paths and look at each one individually. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Ingrid, a lady trying to fulfill a life’s worth of resolutions in one day with the help of a NY messenger (Zac Efron). This one has the most heart and soul. Zac and Michelle are the only pair in the film with any sort of onscreen dynamic. Robert De Niro also does a nice job as a terminally ill patient trying to make it to see final ball drop. Others like Hilary Swank (who is in charge of the ball drop in times square), Sarah Jessica Parker (as a single mom trying to deal with her teenaged daughter played by Abigail Breslin) and Katherine Heigl (a chef hired to cater a swanky NYE event) just phone in their lines and stagger through what seems like a rushed and hurried attempt at filmmaking. The writing is subpar and most of the delivery stiff and at times shoddy. Lea Michele is such a talented singer and Gleeks love her. But Garry has her singing in a stuck elevator while Ashton Kutcher watches. Dumb. There are so many other glaring mistakes and ridiculous decisions but to divulge them here would be to ruin the twists and turns found in the movie.
I blame it all on Marshall. He seems to have grabbed a bunch of familiar faces and threw them into poorly written scenarios, then expects us to like it because he is Garry Marshall. He relied on the success of Valentine’s Day and figured we would love this on general principal. But earlier I did say that this film is good for a couple of reasons. As studios push and shove the dramatic and the epic films into the theaters this is a perfect choice if you simply want a girl’s night out or you are looking for a fairly clean and light hearted date movie. This will fit that bill but little more. Yes it has funny moments and yes there are a few cameos. New York during NYE is always a decent backdrop for a feature. Just make sure you go in to it wanting very little in the way of good film making.
NEW YEAR’S EVE is rated PG-13 for language including some sexual references. There are no awkward moments or crude subjects (except for one or two lines from an old man trying to sound young). Though suitable for your teens they will not like it. It is adult in its relationships and its characters. No young person wants to watch a bunch of old people trying to talk things out. I give it 2 out of 5 Ryan Seacrests. I think it is a renter at best but if you want a night of romance and comedy there is little else to choose from.
Review copyright 2011 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.