If you thought 2010’s Valentine’s Day was bad, wait until you see what writer Katherine Fugate and director Garry Marshall have in store for your New Year’s Eve.
A cavalcade of stars make New York their playground on the most magical night of the year: New Year’s Eve, a night when lives will change in time with the falling of a great big ball of light. Some of them will be responsible for the Times Square festivities, others will be dying to be there, and yet still others want only the second chance they hope a new dawn might bring. The worst of the lot will try to induce labour in order to win a cash prize for first baby delivered after midnight.
Following in a long line of recent films that shoot for comedic but are filled with characters that are so obnoxious or absurd that no real person could ever relate to their antics, the duelling parents-to-be of New Year’s Eve are perhaps the most appalling. Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers, Sarah Paulson and Til Schweiger are lumped with four of the most unappealing characters of the year. Every excruciating moment of their plot arc drags the film down, cancelling out the small amounts of goodwill generated by the rare characters and subplots that don’t make one wish the ball would just drop already.
Halle Berry and Robert De Niro share what are easily the most effective scenes, however their sub-plot is wrapped up nicely in a trite little bundle that suggests their author was interested in anything but their truth. Additionally, their precious moments of worthwhile screentime are swamped by the time spent with characters played by Sarah Jessica Parker and Katherine Heigl (who demonstrates that even when playing a small role in an ensemble her selections let her down. Or maybe it’s just her?). Michelle Pfeiffer and Zac Efron generate an occasional smile, but the remainder of this ridiculously large collection of A-, B- and C-listers (how far Alyssa Milano has fallen!) fail to have a positive impact.
It is this flaw that perhaps is the most grievous: the desire to emulate the success of other films sporting multi-threaded plotlines has been taken to extremes that simply can’t work, as the number of characters and stories attempted means not one is given the time or space to grow as it needs, while all suffer from being under-developed. It just feels like too much. Too much of everything. And if the writer and director don’t care about any of their characters enough to make sure they get the love and attention they need, why should their audience?
The ‘big moment’ sequences in which otherwise shallow characters give what are intended as inspirational speeches about love and kindness serve only to make one want to become violent. The accompanying musical cues are frankly artless, meaning that one can’t miss that one is supposed to be feeling – although for many what they will be feeling is manipulated.
Sure, there is glitz and glamour, and sightseers wishing to see a bit of the fun of New York on New Year’s Eve might get a small kick out of the settings, but for most this film will be a confused melange of sickly sentiment and missed opportunity. Avoid.Rating: