New Year's Eve. It's big and shiny and crowded and no matter how much you might look forward to it, it never lives up to the hype.
The movie is even worse. After director Garry Marshall and writer Katherine Fugate's box-office success with Valentine's Day, a sequel of sorts was inevitable. Here, they follow the same formula, packing as many celebrities as you can into multiple storylines and hope that all those pretty faces and gushy sentiments will distract you from realizing you're watching a terrible movie. This New Year's Eve leaves you feeling like you've got no one to kiss at midnight. Let's count down the reasons why.
10. Voiceover narration, almost always a sure sign a filmmaker can't establish themes through actual storytelling, informs audiences at the movie's beginning that "Some people say there's no beauty left in the world." If it's referring to Ashton Kutcher's cheekbones, maybe it's correct. If it means this movie, it's so, so wrong.
9. Canadian comic Russell Peters has a small part as a caterer's assistant who speaks with an Indian accent on a par with Mickey Rooney's Japanese accent in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Russell, you're a multimillionaire. Are you really this desperate for movie roles?
8. There are this many storylines. Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers are having a baby; Sarah Jessica Parker is tracking down her daughter (Abigail Breslin); Josh Duhamel is trying to get to Manhattan to meet an old flame; Zac Efron is carting a homely Michelle Pfeiffer around to help her cross off her resolutions in exchange for party tickets; Hilary Swank is working on getting the ball to drop at Times Square; Halle Barry is a nurse tending to a cancer-stricken Robert De Niro; Ashton Kutcher is trapped in an elevator with Lea Michele, who needs to get to Times Square to perform as a backup singer; and Jon Bon Jovi plays a famous musician trying to rekindle his romance with a caterer played by Katherine Heigl. All of these characters have back stories that make them compelling flesh and blood people. Kidding!
7. When his wife's water breaks, Meyers's character hails a cab but turns his back briefly, so a stranger jumps in it and takes off. Never seen that one before! Then the movie cuts to Meyers and Biel in a rickshaw. As sight gags go, it's weak. Also, no woman in labour would get in a rickshaw. Just saying.
6. When the Times Square ball gets stuck because of mechanical difficulties, Swank's character, who is in charge of the whole operation, saves the day with a televised speech. "That's what New Year's is all about, getting a second chance," she says. Ohhhhh, I get it. She's really talking about all the other characters in the movie.
5. The complete absence of chemistry among the various stars. You'd think if you packed this many gorgeous people in to one movie, some of them would generate a spark. You would be wrong.
4. The character Piper's mom. A recurring gag that's funny at first but gets overused in a movie grasping to find laughs anywhere it can.
3. Ashton Kutcher plays a mopey sad-sack who refuses to go out on New Year's Eve because a girl broke his heart in college. Seriously?
2. Watching three Oscar winners, in this case Robert De Niro, Halle Barry and Hilary Swank, reduced to this brand of schmaltz.
1. The depressing certainty that, regardless of how awful it is, the movie will do well at the box office, thus ensuring more wretched follow ups. Veteran's Day? Columbus Day? New Year's only comes once a year, but let's hope that, cinematically, it never happens again.
New Year's Eve
- Directed by Garry Marshall
- Written by Katherine Fugate
- Starring practically everyone
- Classification: PG