Genre: Romance, Comedy
Director: Gary Marshall
Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Ashton Kutcher, Hillary Swank, Robert DeNiro, Lea Michelle, Sarah Jessica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Seth Meyers, Jessica Biel, Halle Berry, Josh Duhamel, Jon Bon Jovi, Katherine Heigl
Release Date: 8th December 2011
Gary Marshall gives another celebratory event the Hollywood treatment in the form of New Years Eve. Set in the city most associated with this particular holiday, New York, an A-list ensemble in a diverse range of relationships navigate a day that can make you think about the past, present and the future of your life.
Multiple storylines in various stages of life interweave across the day: a mother and her teenage daughter fight over how spend the event; a delivery boy helps a secretary fulfil her resolutions; a couple awaiting the birth of their child enter a competition; neighbours become stuck in an elevator; an ex-couple meet again at a party; a nurse looks after a dying man; a businessman tries to get home; and the Vice-President of the Times Square Alliance organises a ball drop.
Some of the stories such as the baby race, the New Year’s ball drop in Times Square, and the resolution list, do fit the seasonal theme of the movie, while the rest don’t quite fit the New Years Eve setting particularly and could be seen in any number of romantic comedies. Ex-lovers Jensen (Bon Jovi) and Laura’s (Heigl) tale seems unbelievable: for most of the movie Laura is angry at Jensen and for good reason. He commits to move in then backs out to go on tour, yet eventually she softens and forgives him after he makes a sacrifice. The scenario seems hardly convincing given that this happens in the space of one day. Claire Morgan’s (Swank) narrative is interesting and fits well with the overall flow of the film, yet does disappoint somewhat when, in a crisis to do with a malfunctioning ball, Claire gives a clichéd pep talk to the crowd which is predictable and could have been done without.
The sheer volume and quality of the performers in this film does present an attraction, but any high expectations the audience may have are ultimately thwarted. The fact that most performances don’t shine does leave one underwhelmed. A standout is Michelle Pfeiffer: her meek underplaying of Ingrid takes you along with her as she and Paul (Efron) traverse the city fulfilling her resolutions. Sofia Vergara also steals the limelight as Laura’s sous chef Ava. She provides comic relief as she fawns over Jensen, offering herself to him on many occasions, and creating a funny contradiction to his battering from Laura. Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers also draw laughs as a pregnant couple in a race to win $25,000 at the hospital. The scene where Meyer’s Griffin is flabbergasted as it dawns on him that Tess (Biel) is in labor and they need to get to the hospital is amusing and probably very familiar to most of the parents in the audience. Halle Berry brings in a touching and heart-warming performance as Aimee, a nurse looking after terminally ill Stan Harris (DeNiro) and after her shift has her own special New Year’s Eve date.
New Years Eve neither rises to the occasion nor does it bomb especially. It doesn’t exactly bode well that the outtakes during the credits was the most entertaining part, while film itself coasts along with a few amusing moments here and there.