'New Year's Eve' drops ball, but stars look good
"New Year's Eve," directed by Garry Marshall ("Valentine's Day") stars ... well, everybody — Robert De Niro, Jon Bon Jovi, Halle Berry, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher — but it's still very, very boring. "Like the stroke of midnight," writes Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald, the film "disappears almost instantly."
Seattle Times movie critic
'New Year's Eve,' with Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges," Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Hector Elizondo, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Til Schweiger, Hilary Swank, Sofia Vergara. Directed by Garry Marshall, from a screenplay by Katherine Fugate. 118 minutes. Rated PG-13 for language including some sexual references. Several theaters.
Nearly two years ago, Garry Marshall's "Valentine's Day" arrived in theaters, a sort of celebrity-soup romantic comedy crammed full of cute subplots and winsomely smiling A-list actors trying hard to distract us from the fact that this soup was mere water. Now that water's being reheated for "New Year's Eve," and the new movie's lukewarm at best. An assortment of charmingly attired yet personality-free characters, none of whom seem to possess an ounce of wit or smarts, race around Manhattan's Times Square on New Year's Eve looking for love. Do they find it? Does the ball drop? Did my popcorn last through the entire movie, and was it the most nuanced element of "New Year's Eve"? I'll let you guess the answers.
Like its predecessor, "New Year's Eve" is a tangle of plots, some of which coyly intersect. Claire (Hilary Swank) is the executive in charge of the Times Square holiday festivities, assisted by her cop buddy Brendan (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges). Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a mousy assistant who quits her job in dramatic fashion, enlisting a bicycle messenger (Zac Efron) to help her fulfill some long-held dreams. A one-named fellow named Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) is a superstar performing that night in Times Square, but he's distracted by the presence of his former girlfriend Laura (Katherine Heigl), who's there catering a party.
Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) is a single mom fretting over teen daughter Hailey (Abigail Breslin), who wants to spend the holiday with her friends. Strangers Randy (Ashton Kutcher) and Elise (Lea Michele) get stuck in an elevator together. Nurse Aimee (Halle Berry) wants dying man Stan (Robert De Niro) to have a happy New Year's Eve. Two couples (Jessica Biel/Seth Meyers, Sarah Paulson/Til Schweiger) at a hospital are vying to produce the first New Year's baby. And Sam (Josh Duhamel) needs to get himself and his impressively chiseled jaw from Connecticut to Manhattan on New Year's Eve — making him a strong contender, despite the jaw, for the Dullest Subplot prize, if I had been intrigued enough to award one.
This is a lot of story, and screenwriter Katherine Fugate deals with the challenge of stuffing all of it into two hours by making the characters awkwardly tell each other things they already know (i.e. "As your best friend ... ") and by not bothering to give anybody any character traits other than "attractive," "perky," "noble" and "adorably neurotic." We don't care about any of these people and their problems, because they seem neither real nor interesting nor amusing; instead, we note how nice everybody's hair looks, and wonder whether De Niro is now reading screenplays blindfolded, and ponder how it's possible that Pfeiffer (so exquisite in "Cheri" just two years back) could be rendered so forgettable. Like the stroke of midnight, "New Year's Eve" disappears almost instantly, leaving little behind but limp streamers and the sense that, surely, there was a better party going on somewhere else.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com
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