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Movie Review: New Year’s Eve

December 9, 2011

New Year’s Eve – A Warner Bros. Pictures’ Release

http://www.newyearseve-movie.com

Release Date: December 9th, 2011

Rated PG for some language

Running time: 117 minutes

Garry Marshall (dir.)

Katherine Fugate (writer)

John Debney (music)

Michelle Pfeiffer as Ingrid

Zac Efron as Paul

Josh Duhamel as Sam

Robert De Niro as Stan Harris

Halle Berry as Nurse Aimee

Hilary Swank as Claire Morgan

Common as Soldier

Jessica Biel as Tess Byrne

Seth Meyers as Griffin Byrne

Carla Gugino as Spiritual Dr. Morriset

Katherine Heigl as Laura

Jon Bon Jovi as Jensen

Ashton Kutcher as Randy

Lea Michele as Elise

Sarah Jessica Parker as Kim

Abigail Breslin as Hailey

©Warner Bros. Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Randy (Ashton Kutcher) and Elise (Lea Michele) in the all-star New Year’s Eve.

Our reviews below:

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New Year’s Eve Review By John C.

*1/2 (out of 4)

When I reviewed Valentine’s Day back in February of 2010, I called the shallow and often annoying film a “big budget romantic-comedy starring everyone and their dog, with the kitchen sink thrown in for good luck.”  I feel pretty much the same way about director Garry Marshall’s equally star-studded sequel of sorts, New Year’s Eve.  This is a marginally better film, but it’s got a long way to go from being as good as the stars might suggest.  Audiences will likely see it as the titular date approaches, but this still feels like nothing more than a cheap rip-off of the great Love Actually.

The main story that seems to connect pretty much everyone else is that of caterer Laura (Katherine Heigl) and her ex-boyfriend, a rock star named Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) who is set to perform in New York.  Now let’s see if I can get this all right.  Jensen’s back-up singer (Lea Michele) is stuck in an elevator with a young man who can’t stand the holiday (Ashton Kutcher), and the Times Square celebration is being organized by Claire (Hilary Swank) who has more than a few secrets of her own.  Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) is an employee at a record company throwing the big after party, and she hires a young courier (Zac Efron) to help her make her New Year’s resolutions come true.

Sam (Josh Duhamel) is trying to get back into the city by midnight so that he can meet a mystery date that left him a note the year before.  Stan (Robert De Niro) is spending the last few hours of his life in a hospital by the side of a kind nurse (Halle Berry).  But we don’t actually spend that much time with this story because director Garry Marshall clearly intends this to be a party film that goes down good with a bottle of champagne.  So cue upbeat and fun songs like Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything Tonight” and P!nk’s “Raise Your Glass” to play on the soundtrack.

But wait.  There are even more plotlines to keep track of.  The story involving Tess and Griffin (Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers), a couple trying to have their baby at midnight in order to win some money from the hospital, is just unbelievably obnoxious and incredibly shallow.  Are we actually supposed to find this sweet or have any sympathy for these characters?  Also on the list of storylines that fall painfully flat is the bratty teenaged Hailey (a sullen Abigail Breslin) who runs away to get kissed at midnight, much to the dismay of her whiny single mother (Sarah Jessica Parker).  Of all the people who would be in Times Square at midnight, these are some of the least interesting you could find.

The storylines with Lea Michele and Ashton Kutcher, Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer, as well as Robert De Niro and Halle Berry are alright if all you are looking for is forced sentimentality.  But the majority of the other stories fall completely flat, with montages that try to put all of the characters on the same emotional wavelength.  There are some twists that connect them all together, and the only ones that aren’t predictable are only surprising because they don’t make much sense.  But the biggest flaw with the film is that none of the characters are particularly interesting.  The ones that are mildly intriguing aren’t developed well enough to make us truly care, and the 117-minute running time is far too long.

Another big problem that I have with it comes in the form of shameless marketing.  At one point, a poster for Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows literally fills half the screen.  Stick around through the end credits for an even more shameless plug for Valentine’s Day.  All over the place in terms of tone and sometimes incoherent when it comes to a proper narrative structure, New Year’s Eve is also a good half-hour too long and some of the characters are more annoying than they are likable or funny.  Perhaps this is how you would like to spend the last day of the year, but I would rather just stay home and watch the ball drop on TV.

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New Year’s Eve Review by Erin V.  

**1/2 (out of 4)

We have characters Elise (Lea Michelle) and Randy (Ashton Kutcher) as two strangers stranded in an elevator together, Paul (Zac Efron) helping a woman named Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) fulfill her previous year’s New Year’s resolutions before midnight, two pregnant couples trying to race each other to see who will have the New Year’s baby and win 25 grand, Robert De Niro as Stan Harris, a man dying of cancer who’s estranged from his family, and Halle Berry as his nurse.

Hilary Swank as Claire – the woman in charge of putting together the festivities at Time’s Square, Jon Bon Jovi as Jensen – the man performing at Time’s Square, Katherine Heigl as Laura, the caterer to the party at Time’s Square (who Jensen is in love with), and to top it all off, Sarah Jessica Parker as Kim, a mother who is trying to keep a tight rein on her 15-year-old daughter Hailey (Abigail Breslin), who wants to party with her friends.  Oh yeah…  and then there’s Josh Duhemel as a man who is trying to find the love of his life that he met the previous year on New Year’s Eve.

It’s a lot to take in – and in case you didn’t already guess from that, like the quite mediocre Valentine’s Day, with New Year’s Eve we are once again following in the style of popular and critically acclaimed multiple storyline movies such as Crash and Love Actually.  In fact, for me, Love Actually is the bar by which these films are all measured against – it was the only time that I can say that every storyline worked, fit together without feeling clichéd, and did justice to the running time.

Like Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve boasts a lot that needed to be cut – there are at least two storylines too many, and the whole thing feels overlong.  I checked my watch 45 minutes in, sure the film was getting close to the end, but then realized that there was another hour and fifteen minutes to go.  Again, around the 90 minute mark, it really felt like it could be getting close to wrapping up, but instead a ton more story was tacked on.

That being said, there was some stuff to like here.  The storyline between Zac Efron and Michelle Pfieffer was sweet, as was Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michelle’s, and Hilary Swank, Robert DeNiro, and Halle Barry’s story was fine as well.  In fact, a lot of the rest of the stuff felt unneeded and this could have been a stronger film had it just focused on three storylines instead of six.  Although it’s hard to say which is a better film, I think I liked the tone here a bit better than Valentine’s Day, as it felt less cynical (to me at least) overall.

The biggest fault of New Year’s Eve though is definitely the running time and excess of characters.  It is alright to see once and I’m sure there will be an audience that will like this light rom-com.  But it’s not one to revisit again and again, and personally I wouldn’t feel a need to see it in a theatre.  Simply put, it was sweet at times, overlong and boring at others.  Not the best mix, although as I said, I’m sure some audiences will enjoy it.

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New Year’s Eve Review by Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

It has been said that everyone is separated by no more than six degrees.  Around Christmas, these connections seem even closer.  New Year’s Eve follows several New York residents as they prepare to celebrate the 2012 New Year in their own ways.  Many of their stories are sweet, some are silly, but they are all connected in unexpected ways.

The strongest points in the film include a young man (Zac Efron) helping a shy woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) reach her New Year’s goals, two young adults (Lea Michele and Ashton Kutcher) who find themselves stuck in a stalled elevator, and an elderly man (Robert De Niro) who with the help of his daughter gets to enjoy his last New Year’s Eve in a special way.  His nurse (Halle Berry) also has a special message for someone.  These three storylines were very heartwarming.  De Niro’s story is especially poignant for those who have a loved one in palliative care at Christmas time.

The weakest points of the film were the storylines about two couples fighting to have the first New Year’s baby, and a teenaged girl (Abigail Breslin) and her mother (Sarah Jessica Parker) arguing over whether the girl can go to Times Square to meet someone special.  While these two storylines add to the running time, they don’t make the movie annoying.

Unlike many romantic comedies these days, New Year’s Eve isn’t cynical.  Instead, this is a charming and pleasant holiday movie.  While nowhere near as good as Love Actually, New Year’s Eve is a nice seasonal film anyone from teenagers to seniors can enjoy.

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New Year’s Eve Review by Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

New York City’s Times Square, watching the ball drop on TV or in person, symbolizes New Year’s Eve for many people.  A night for hope, second chances and new beginnings, everyone’s got their own story about how they lead up to the big countdown.  Director Garry Marshall pulls together an all-star cast to tell a series of intersecting and overlapping stories about several New Yorkers and how they spend New Year’s Eve.

In New Years Eve, the story is centred around the big ball in Times Square.  Claire (Hilary Swank) is in charge of making sure the whole operation goes smoothly.  The star act for the evening is Daniel Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) who will also perform at a gala party sponsored by recording company Ahern Records.  From this basic plot-point the various side stories branch out.  Some of the stories are sweet, some pointless and some sad, but they all share a common thread – a connection, love or otherwise, between individuals.

One of the sweeter stories that runs through the whole movie is Ahern Records’ fifty-something secretary, Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) and bike courier Paul (Zac Efron).  Shy Ingrid has a list of resolutions from the previous year that she regrets not fulfilling.  In exchange for the tickets to the big gala, Paul takes her on an adventure helping her fulfill her wish list.  The story between back-up singer Elise (Lea Michele) and artist Randy (Ashton Kutcher) that mostly takes place in the elevator is also sweet.  Robert De Niro’s scenes as Stan, with nurse Aimee (Halle Berry) are also touching.

New Year’s Eve is worth watching for all the celebrity spotting.  The film is somewhat uneven at times but overall a pleasant diversion in honour of that night of nights – New Year’s Eve.

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New Year’s Eve Review by Tony

** (out of 4)

New Year’s Eve, the latest feature from director Garry Marshall written by Katherine Fugate, is much like their last year’s Valentine’s Day, a bunch of simultaneous stories leading up in this case to the Times Square ball drop in New York. Like the previous film, it is uneven at almost two hours with too many plot lines and needless attempts to link them. However, there is more to like than not, with some charm coupled with the mild sense of suspense leading up to midnight and some interesting twists at the end.

My favourite stories involved the hot-shot courier (Zac Efron) fulfilling the wish list of a timid office manager (Michelle Pfeiffer), the man (Robert De Niro) on his death bed holding out for one last ball drop, and the couple (Aston Kutcher and Lea Michele) trapped in an elevator. The Hilary Swank and Josh Duhamel stories were ok, the Katherine Heigl/Jon Bon Jovi couple not so much, the latter a much better singer than actor. A couple of stories were just annoying: the two competing couples for the New Year baby prize and Sarah Jessica Parker as a single mother trying to keep her daughter (Abigail Breslin) from getting to Times Square with a boy she likes. Sometimes the bit parts were more welcome than the leads, including Sofía Vergara, Carla Gugino, Larry Miller, Hector Elizondo, Matthew Broderick and Russell Peters.

With the gold standard for this type of film being Love Actually, anything since, including New Year’s Eve, doesn’t come close, but if you are out for light entertainment and like the cast you might not be too disappointed.

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Consensus: Although Garry Marshall’s New Year’s Eve boasts an all-star cast and a handful of nice scenes, it is overlong and disappointing unless all you are looking for is light and predictable seasonal entertainment.  **1/4 (Out of 4)

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