If there’s one thing you can say about Katherine Fugate and Garry Marshall, the respective screenplay writer and director of New Year’s Eve, it’s that they are not ashamed to go back to the well.
Having churned out 2010’s Valentine’s Day, which was inexplicably successful despite lacking anything in the form of substance, the duo are back at it again with New Year’s Eve.
As Valentine’s Day was a story about a group of seemingly isolated people and couples, and their adventures and misadventures on the February holiday, New Year’s Eve recycles the same tired premise. We learn that all of these people have some kind of connection throughout the story, which lacks any surprise, any suspense, and, truthfully, any humor, despite its “comedic” designation. Those dots will be connected throughout.
A slew of Hollywood A-listers ... well, actually B-listers, appear in this movie, which was easily 40 minutes too long.
Here’s the synopsis of what happens:
Hilary Swank is the head of the Times Square Alliance, the group charged with the famous Times Square ball-drop. Ashton Kutcher hates New Year’s Eve. He is roommates with Zac Efron, who’s young and hip and loves New Year’s Eve. Efron is the brother of Sarah Jessica Parker, a costume designer on Broadway. Her daughter is Abigail Breslin. Jon Bon Jovi plays Jenson, a rock star who is going to perform the big music event for the New Year’s celebration (a real stretch). He used to be engaged to Katherine Heigl, but they broke it off, mostly because she’s annoying but partly because he was scared. She is a caterer who is preparing food for the same celebration. Her sous chef is Sofia Vergara, who is a carbon copy of her character from Modern Family, even down to the proliferation of cleavage shots.
(Taking a breath ...)
Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers are married and having a baby. Their goal is to have the first baby born in the new year and win $25,000. Michelle Pfeiffer plays a lonely, despondent woman who has an epiphany and quits her job. She has a “bucket list” of things she wants to do in the new year. She hires Efron to be her scooter chauffeur for the day, and they cruise around the city, knocking things off the list. Efron does this in exchange for tickets to the city's hottest party, the Ahearn Records International (ARI) gala. Robert DeNiro (yes, the same guy who played Travis Bickle and Jake LaMotta and young Vito Corleone—THAT Robert DeNiro) plays a bed-ridden dying man with tubes in his nose. His nurse is Halle Berry. She’s still pretty. His doctor is Cary Elwes, who apparently got out of the room in Saw. Kutcher gets stuck in the elevator in his building with Lea Michele, who plays a backup singer with Bon Jovi, and is hoping she can impress him enough to go on tour with him. Naturally, while they’re stuck, they go from hating each other, to being civil, to being friendly, to falling in love (yeah, that usually happens in six hours). They get out of the elevator. She makes it to the performance and sings. Yay!
Josh Duhamel crashes a car in the beginning of the movie, and is in a rush to get to the city. But we’re left wondering why. He hitches a ride with the body of Lisa Simpson’s voice (Yeardley Smith) and her family. Turns out, he’s the son of the now-deceased ARI founder, the music group throwing the big party, and he needs to make a speech. Oh, and he’s supposed to meet an unknown woman at midnight at a crappy Italian restaurant somewhere ... apparently they shared a moment once.
(Taking another breath ...)
Midway through the movie, as the giant ball is being raised, some of its lights go out. Everyone is freaking. To ease everyone’s worries, Swank goes on TV and delivers the wooden speech about New Year’s Eve meaning rebirth, and second chances, and hopes and dreams, and taking time to appreciate ... blah, blah, blah.
Later we find out that Berry is married, Breslin’s crush kissed another girl, Efron eventually gets to the party and brings an unsurprising date, Biel and Meyers have their baby (but was it the first one born?), DeNiro’s daughter comes to see him, Ludacris is a cop, Heigl and Bon Jovi talk about reconciliation, the ball gets fixed, people kiss at midnight. The end.
Did you get all that?
Also, the agents of the following actors found out another Fugate/Marshall production was taking place and begged to get their clients in there somehow, some way: Alyssa Milano, John Lithgow, Jim Belushi, Matthew Broderick (who combine for a grand total of maybe 15 lines between them.)
I understand the point of these kinds of movies is to be a fun, star-studded journey. But each of these actors is reduced to something far less than what they are capable of (aside from SJP, who is what she is). The worst part of it all? The five-minute “outtakes” montage that rolled through the credits was easily more enjoyable than anything in the actual movie.
But lacking anything redeeming, the movie just screams out “Redbox.” Whomever chooses to see this in the theater is either being dragged there by his significant other, or has no regard for the value of a dollar. Of course, saying that, plenty of people will undoubtedly do so, thus giving Fugate and Marshall carte blanche to pump out the next holiday-related gagger.
St. Patrick’s Day, anyone?