NEW YEAR'S EVE
The lives of several couples and singles, young and a bit older, in New York intertwine over the course of New Year's Eve 2011.
Review by Louise Keller:
Hopes, wishes and dreams are random-shuffled into a gigantic jigsaw in this star-studded mosaic of story strands as the countdown to New Year's Eve begins. Like last year's Valentine's Day (also from director Gary Marshall and screenwriter Katherine Fugate), the film may work as a date movie, but only if predictable, sugar-coated, schmaltz is on the menu. With so much talent on the screen, it's an opportunity wasted - fewer, more meaningful stories might have worked better, as they did in Richard Curtis' tantalising Love Actually (2004), which was a similar construct.
There's the anticipation of a first kiss, the challenge of a new job, the rekindling of an old flame, the uncertainty of a possible relationship and the playing out of a fantasy. Trouble is, the humour is overworked; the characters are plastic; the situations unbelievable and some of the resolutions disappointing with some characters having more appeal than others.
Strangely, some of the most irritating story strands are given the most screen time, like Katherine Heigl's upmarket caterer who hasn't recovered from her breakup with Bon Jovi's rock star and chops fresh pineapple relentlessly after throwing eggs and tomatoes at his poster. Flashing her movie-star smile, Hilary Swank as the Time Square event organizer, is asked to deliver too many corny lines, and whoever thought up the segment in which a surprisingly dowdy-looking Michelle Pfeiffer plays a shrinking-violet office-assistant who recruits Zac Effron to fulfill her bucket-list checklist? Worst of all is the story in which Ashton Kutcher (wearing PJ bottoms and purple cardigan) gets stuck in the elevator with Glee's Lea Michele.
Abigail Breslin is sweet as Sarah Jessica Parker fresh-eyed teenage daughter and I did like Halle Berry as Robert DeNiro's compassionate nurse. Josh Duhamel is eye candy but I was disappointed by the resolution of what should have been the film's most romantic moment.
First published in the Sun-Herald
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A large bunch of actors, all good and true, along with filmmaker Garry Marshall, have ganged up on the public to mug them with a bit of flim flam to squeeze us out of a contribution to their Christmas stocking. Or as Winston Churchill might have said, never have so many done so little for so many with such dreary results. My critical juices are soured by New Year's Eve partly because of the waste of good talent (theirs) and valuable time (mine) and partly because it is a missed opportunity.
The premise of the film is a multiple thread of relationships being drawn together over the course of the night, all in varying, frayed or incomplete stages. As we are skipped from one to the next, we can only wonder at the sheer weightlessness of it all. There is little time to invest in any of the stories, nor interest; it's all been said and done so many times before. The New Year's Eve p[art in Times Square is the global focus of a new era of hope and kindness in the world. Or should be, once the world has seen this film.
Any semblance of genuine emotion is scrubbed away with sentimentality; any profound moment in a relationship is drowned in saccharine. It ends in a crescendo of happy, neat (plastic) endings.
There are, thank goodness, a few scenes towards the end that pass for entertainment, including the goof tape under the end credits.
Perhaps I'm being unfair; after all, it's meant to be a celebration of human nature at its best - or at least at its better, and we should just sit back and let the froth bubble over us as midnight strikes and the famous ball drops in Times Square. Ah yes, but do we have time to waste?
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NEW YEAR'S EVE (PG)
CAST: Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher, Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Sofia Vergara, Carla Gugino, Abigail Breslin, Josh Duhamel, Sara Paxton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, John Lithgow, Sarah Paulson, Til Schweiger, Ludacris, Hector Elizondo, Jon Bon Jovi
PRODUCER: Richard Brener, Toby Emmerich, Mike Karz, Wayne Allan Rice, Josie Rosen
DIRECTOR: Garry Marshall
SCRIPT: Katherine Fugate
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Charles Minsky
EDITOR: Michael Tronick
MUSIC: John Debney
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Friedberg
RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 8, 2011