Hey, remember the critically panned Valentine’s Day? That A-List ensemble failure based on various romances during Valentine’s Day? Well, the director, Garry Marshall, is back with New Year’s Eve. It has an A-List cast, and it’s based on various romances during New Year’s Eve. Do you see where I’m going here? Don’t worry, New Year’s Eve has Jon Bon Jovi with a leading role. That’ll spice it up.
It’s hard to find a good way to explain the story of New Year’s Eve, considering it has 8 different stories flying around simultaneously. It could have been 9, but who’s counting? Each story is riddled with clichés, making the over-acted dialogue even more noticeable. I honestly can’t sum up these plot lines to you in a paragraph, since they have too little in common. Garry Marshall gave a great example of quantity-over-quality. Well, let’s try to describe this:
1. Tess and Griffin Byrne (Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers) – A couple that are expecting their first child on New Year’s Eve discover there is a cash prize for having the first child of the new year. Wackily enough, there is another couple vying for that prize and antics ensue.
2. Jensen and Laura (Jon Bon Jovi and Katherine Heigl) – Jensen is the biggest music sensation of all time and Laura is the head chef for his New Year’s Eve concert. She also happens to be his Ex-Fiancee. How serendipitous.
3. Randy and Elise (Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michele) – Randy and Elise live on the same floor of an apartment building, but have never met until they become stuck in an elevator. Could these two have more in common than they think?! Could they fall in love with each other in the hours they spend in the elevator?! Yeah, they do. Spoilers.
4. Kate and Hailey (Sarah Jessica Parker and Abigail Breslin) – Kate and her daughter Hailey are starting to drift apart, but Kate plans a nice New Year’s Eve at home to get closer together. Hailey, the rebellious teen, sneaks out of her room to go out with her friends. So, Kate has to go chasing after her daughter and learns valuable lesson about raising children. Also, in one scene, Sarah Jessica Parker arrives in a horse-drawn carriage. The irony was eating me up inside.
5. Harry and Nurse Aimee (Robert De Niro and Halle Berry) – Harry is a dying old man with no one by his side, except for the Nurse, Aimee. She takes pity on the old man and spends her New Year’s Eve by his side. Harry’s last wish is to see the ball drop one last time, but the hospital rules won’t let Aimee take him to the roof. Can you guess what happens?
6. Paul and Ingrid (Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer) – Ingrid is closed-off, overworked and looking for a change; Paul is an easygoing courier who likes to live life to the fullest. After a fateful meeting between the two, Ingrid quits her job and recruits Paul to help her accomplish all of her New Year’s resolutions before the night is up. Remember The Bucket List? Same concept, except nobody dies.
7. Sam and the Mystery Girl (Josh Duhamel and *Spoilers*) – Sam is on his way to deliver an important speech in New York, when he gets in a car accident. Through a series of unlucky incidents, Sam ends up in an R.V. with a family headed into NY. While on this family road trip, Sam remembers that he had met a wonderful woman on last New Year’s Eve. That night, they had promised that if they were both interested in one year, they would meet again in that same spot. Now, Sam has to decide whether he has the courage to meet that woman this year or to let go of the past.
8. Claire and Brendan (Hilary Swank and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) – This story isn’t a romantic one, but a story about perseverance and realizing your priorities. Claire is the head of the New Year’s Eve celebration in NY, including the dropping of the ball. Brendan is the Chief of Police? Or something to do with the NYPD? (It was hard to stay awake, let alone remember the details.) For some reason, Brendan is an officer of the law, but spends his time chatting up Claire and sharing her stresses when the almighty New Year’s Ball becomes stuck halfway up the lift.
Good God, I think that’s all of the stories.
As you can see, there was a lot going on in the two hours that New Year’s Eve consumes. Unfortunately, the plots are so loosely tied together, it becomes an incoherent jumble of sappy scenes and poor dialogue. I found myself completely forgetting about characters and plot lines, due to the constant shifting of viewpoints and scenarios. Not to mention, it is impossible to create any sort of connection to a particular character because you only see them in snippets. Luckily, you won’t escape the moral of the film. You literally can’t. It crams the message of “Follow Your Heart” and “Take Control Of Your Life” down your throat every chance it gets. Whether it’s the blatantly obvious dialogue or the narrator telling you exactly what to think, New Year’s Eve does succeed in getting its point across.
What pains me most about New Year’s Eve is that with such an all-star cast, almost every actor/actress was disappointing. We know that these people can act, yet they all decided to let their skills slide on this film. Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, and Josh Duhamel reprise their roles from every other movie they’ve been in. De Niro does look like someone who’s dying, but limited screen time and lack of character depth steal any light out of his scenes. I feel somewhat bad for Seth Meyers, simply because he seemed out of place. His lines were awkward and half of his scenes were just meaningful glances, but I can’t judge his acting ability off of this script. Overall, the performances either seemed to be lackluster and uninspired, or completely overdone. There are plenty of other notable actors who have small cameo roles, but they were smart enough to avoid having any major part in this film. The list of disappointments goes on, but there are too many to keep rambling about them.
The comedy of New Year’s Eve is forced, uncomfortable and corny. Most of it relies on overdone subject matter or childish physical humor. Also, New Year’s Eve has several musical numbers in it! Naturally, Bon Jovi has a few songs that create mind-numbing montages. In order to put more butts in seats, Glee‘s Lea Michele has a couple of songs as well. New Year’s Eve saw the lyrics in these dreary pop songs as an opportunity to pound in the moral a few more times. The songs all correlate to the situations that the characters are in, the montage even cuts to each character at the appropriate verse. Let me tell you, putting in full length pop songs is not the way to make your boring film more enjoyable.
I’m hard pressed to think of a single enjoyable aspect of New Year’s Eve, other than the bloopers during the credits. I suppose there was one funny line about Josh Duhamel being a sandwich. Yeah…that sandwich joke was the only good part of New Year’s Eve. Otherwise, it’s a bombardment of sappy, tired clichés performed poorly by a list of overqualified actors.
I give New Year’s Eve 1.5 “Manwiches” out of 5