Tis’ the season for releasing the best of the best: Oscar candidates, indie hopefuls and heartwarming Christmas tales that will fill kids with jubilant joy. The new romantic comedy New Year’s Eve falls into neither of those categories. But it does bode well for the folks over at Warner Brothers who will surely be reaping the benefits of females in need of affection and romantic flimsies.
Director Garry Marshall follows the same sort of construction as his plodding film from last year, Valentine’s Day. The picture is truly nothing more than multiple vignettes, crammed together to ultimately dissolve into a cathartic, clichéd mess.
As counted, there are 8 different storylines in New Year’s Eve. And no, I won’t be describing all of them. Though they can certainly be grouped up with one consistent theme: compassion. Every character in the film is looking for some sort of unification, intimacy, and most of all, love.
Michelle Pfeiffer – who was been out of Hollywood for the past two years – plays the most intriguing character in the film, Ingrid. She’s a sad and somber 40-something who apparently has done diddly squat with her life. So naturally, she decides, as a new year’s resolution, to quit her job and experience, you know, life. But she’s a tad out of touch with the present day. Luckily for her an opportunity arises when Paul (a mailman played by the youthful, though silly Zack Efron) comes to her desk to drop off a package. He makes an agreement to help her complete everything on her New Year’s wish list in exchange for a pair of VIP tickets to a party.
Beyond Pfeiffer’s character, the film is rather languid. There’s some marginal intrigue between Katherine Heigl’s Laura and Bon Jovi’s Jensen but the fascination is squandered and squashed the second either of them have any sort of confrontation.
The list of Hollywood stars transpires, ending up somewhere around 30 distinctly recognizable actors and actresses. Blame for the discombobulating plot shouldn’t be solely placed on Marshall, who was laced with the impossible task of creating a coherent story for dozens of Hollywood stars.
Still, that’s unquestionably not a strong enough excuse to diminish the pain of New Year’s Eve. The film’s shortcomings are many. The characters aren’t humans but caricatures, the hackneyed script never takes a rest with the self-indulgent monologues and the relationships between the actors are stupefying, disingenuous, and dull.
I suppose New Year’s Eve is above all things, romantic. It will appeal and satisfy its designated audience as sad as it is that we have an audience who enjoys the pseudo sentiments.
Anyone besides women longing for a whimsical romance should probably sit this one out. That is unless your spouse requests your attendance which in turn should automatically grant you access to luxurious favors for sitting through the films false, unfunny, and dull reality.
If you must see the picture, make sure you sit through the credits, which entails the best laugh of the film by an actor who clearly is out of place.