“There Must be More Celebrities Here Than Rehab”

Movie Review: New Year’s Eve (2011)
Summary: The lives of several couples and singles in New York intertwine over the course of New Year’s Eve.
Spoilers: none

Everyone is obsessed with the ball dropping in the holiday movie New Year’s Eve. In fact, the obsession is downright unnatural, if not unhealthy.

And “unnatural” is a term that can almost describe the movie overall, with its sleigh-full of celebrities in a film that basically gloats as it gets fatter in aim than it is in content with a near-shameless show-off of roles.

The movie follows six couples as they cope with drama in their respective lives, each wanting
different things. And there’s a Grinch-type in every holiday crowd. Aston Kutcher is that Grinch here.

I won’t even attempt to explain who is who because this film has more than a dozen “main characters” and no one of them is in focus for long enough to be appreciated. I’ll just mention some other celebrities (although I don’t need to): De Niro, Berry, Parker, Biel, Meyers, Efron, Bon Jovi.

The entire effort is like a New York informercial, a sadly bloated one. The real problems show up and compound themselves quickly with others.

The film feels too well scripted to allow for chemistry or any natural spontaneity (as though anyone on screen had time for it). Everyone talks with responses that sound like they’ve been crafted. The plot is spread so thin, and with characters like those found in a soap opera series crammed into a 2-hour movie.

And we have girl fits, elevators stopping working just long enough to start romances, and couples trying to win the money from having the first baby of the year. Now couples getting awarded prizes for having the first baby of the year is the kind of thing some want to hear about on the evening news, but not watch a movie about.

There’s too much star power, and the flick knows it – and counts on it – which is why we should hate it for having nothing else. We’d have less of a problem with it if the celebs were appearing as themselves, but most aren’t. They’re playing other people, which only makes it seem more like an empty and hollow effort.

There are some legitimate brief moments of touching emotional impact – and yes, some hurried scenes consisting of more than fair performances – but the movie itself doesn’t leave much to think on or like.

The congested plot makes it almost impossible to appreciate the humor when it is found. The one-liner quips one can get used to, but the story’s tendency to throw in a bunch of heartache (like a soldier abroad longing to be home and a dying patient) is presented so that it is perceived as yet more eye-rolling blockage tucked underneath the warm blanket of emotional manipulation. Blah!


Grade: D+ (1 ½ stars)
Rated: PG-13 (for language, including some sexual references)
Director: Garry Marshall
Starring: “Ingrid” (Michelle Pfeiffer), “Paul” (Zac Efron), “Murray” (Michael Mandell), “Stan Harris” (Robert De Niro), “Nurse Aimee” (Halle Berry), “Nurse Mindy” (Alyssa Milano), “Tess Byrne” (Jessica Biel), “Griffin Byrne” (Seth Meyers)
Genre: Comedy / Romance