Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: New Year's Eve

Let’s fast forward through the diatribe I typically express whenever I come across one of those ensemble cast movies that features half of Hollywood (Valentine’s Day, What to Expect When You Are Expecting).  Let’s just accept the fact that I think they are terrible, lack character development, and feature actors just mailing it in.  Having just seen the movie New Year’s Eve I can tell that I saw nothing in this movie that makes me feel otherwise. 

New Year’s Eve follows the lives of a bunch of people in New York City on New Year’s Eve battling the holidays, the elements, and the trite sentimentality that drives their respective matters of the heart.  Why director Garry Marshall – he of Pretty Woman, Beaches, and The Princess Diaries fame – keeps venturing into this genre is beyond me, but rather than completely dismiss the film as a complete write off, I am going to highlight the glorified vignettes and how they don’t work to varying degrees.

Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michele star in the “love in the elevator” portion of the movie and their collective performance plays like two high school drama students acting out a series of romantic clichés.  Not much better than that, is the “mending the fences” storyline as brought to life by Jon Bon Jovi and Katherine Heigl, though there is a thin layer of authenticity to this plot line as Heigl is asked to play a bitter and domineering woman and Bon Jovi a selfish self-centered musician.  On the opposite end of the authenticity spectrum is the performance of Josh Duhamel who plays the role of a cad that has come to grips with his own sentimentality and hopes to find a special someone that he once shared a moment with.  As to who that is, well it is a mystery easily solved about ten minutes into the movie.

Not to be upstaged in the unbelievablity department is the competition between two couples to have the first baby born in the new year for a monetary prize.  Is it unbelievable that this might happen in real life?  No - crazier things have been done in the real world for the almighty dollar.  It is in fact the performances of Seth Myers and Jessica Biel that are hard to fathom.  Myers delivers every other line with his hand-caught-in-the-cookie-jar expression from SNL: Weekend Update, and Biel has yet to master the ability to convince anyone that she can actually act. 

Then there is the arc shared by Michelle Pfeiffer and Zac Efron.  I was sure I would hate this one the most.  I cannot stress how overly contrived, incredibly cliché, and so overused the paradigm for their story line is, however it is still represents the most entertaining parts of the movie.  Effron is believable as a douchebag (obviously) bike messenger, but it is Michelle Pfeiffer who carries their story.  Of the one million characters in the movie, hers is the most sympathetic and the only one that seems to have any real depth despite the limited screen time.

As for the rest of the cast, Hilary Swank is there and fairly dour as she is charged with shouldering the gravitas of the movie.  Likewise Robert DeNiro, Abigail Breslin and Sarah Jessica Parker negotiate the mother-daughter relationship in ways that are not compelling.  Also appearing in the movie are Halle Berry, Common, Cary Elwes, Alyssa Milano (yes, apparently she still acts), Sofia Vergara, Carla Gugino, and so on and so forth and none of them do anything of significance to impact the movie one way or another.  As glorified extras, their presence actually breaks what little reality exist in the film as you find yourself thinking more about actor recognition rather than investing in the characters they are attempting to portray.

So I could sit here and tell you not to watch it (which is what I would suggest) but for the most part it probably won’t make much of a difference.  This is one of those movies that from the moment people first see the trailer, they instantly decide whether or not they are willing to invest their time and/or money on this project.  But if I can save even one person from this disaster, I will say it again: this is not a good movie.  It’s an exercise in quantity over quality so in lieu of one really good plotline you get five terribly weak ones.  The best recommendation I can make is to not only skip this movie, but to quit the genre altogether.

Standout Performance:  Michael Bloomberg and Ryan Seacrest.  They were asked to pay themselves.  It’s about as easy as acting can get.


Post a Comment