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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

New Year's Eve | Hilary Swank, Michele Pfeiffer, Lea Michele, John Bon Jovi, Katherine Heigl, Zac Efron | Review

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New Year's Eve

Similar in formula to his earlier romantic comedy, Valentines Day, Garry Marshall's latest flick follows several couples and singles whose lives intersect on a holiday. This go around it is New Year's Eve.

Marshall has assembled a long list of Hollywood stars including some Oscar winners for the ensemble cast and cameos by John Lithcow, Chris “Ludicris' Bridges, Cary Elwes, Alyssa Milano, Penny Marshall, Jim Belushi, Carla Gugino, Cherry Jones, Matthew Broderick, Common, Larry Miller, Joey MacIntyre, Yeardley Smith and Ryan Seacrest as himself.

Of course, quantity doesn't always equal quality. New Year's Eve isn't the worse movie of the year. At best, the film is a non offensive, harmless piece of forgettable, cliché driven fluff that lacks real substance. For the slew of actors who make an appearance, it was an easy way to take home a paycheck.

The setting is The Big Apple, where several storylines unfold before the big ball in Times Square decends at the stroke of midnight to usher in the New Year.

Claire Morgan (Hillary Swank) the new V.P of the Time Square Alliance is responsible for overseeing the Times Square festivities on New Year's Eve. Panic mode sets in when the ball gets stuck traveling midway to its perch during preparation for the big moment and Claire has to call in Kominsky, an 'electrical wizard' (Hector Elizando with a Russian accent) to fix it.

Speaking of dropping, nine month pregnant, Tess Byrne (Jessica Biel) and husband Griffin (SNL's Seth Myers), are competing with another couple, Grace (Sarah Paulson) and James Schwab (Til Schweiger) to give birth to the first baby of the new year and win $25,000.

In another part of the hospital, Stan Harris (Robert De Niro) a terminally ill cancer patient close to death, has one last wish, to go on the roof and watch the ball go down in Times Square. Hallee Berry plays Aimee, an empathetic, kind nurse who stays at his beside trying to keep him comfortable.

Rock star Jensen (no reach for Jon Bon Jovi, ) has two gigs lined up for the biggest night of the year. He is set to perform at his record label's swank party and then at the outdoor bash at Times Square. But, all he really cares about is getting back together with his former girlfriend, Laura (Katherine Heigl) a caterer working on the party, who wants nothing to do with him after he got cold feet and walked out on their relationship. Laura's sexy Latina sous chef Eva (Sofia Vergara), on the other hand, would love to be in Laura's shoes and can't wait to meet and get up close to Laura's ex beau.

Meanwhile, Elise, one of Jensen's back up singers (also no reach for Glee's Lea Michele) finds herself stuck in her apartment building elevator with neighbor Randy (Ashton Kutcher), a comic book illustrator that, for some unknown reason, hates New Year's Eve and has no plans to celebrate.

Sam Ahern (Josh Duhamel) finds himself also stuck, but his predicament occurs in the colder outdoors. On the way to a party where he is to give a speech, and later hoping to reconnect at midnight with the woman he met last year, his car gets stuck in snow, and is he given a lift to the city by a pastor and his family in their SUV.

Then there is Ingrid (Michele Pfeiffer playing against type as a frumpy, middle aged, plain Jane) a secretary who quits her job after feeling unappreciated. She then decides to hire the company's bike courier (Zac Efron) a cutie half her age, who happens to be Randy's best friend, to help fulfill her wish list of New Year's Eve resolutions in exchange for prime tickets to the party where Jensen will perform.

Another flimsy plotline has Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) a single mom set against letting her 15 year old daughter, Hailey (Abigail Breslin) spend New Years Eve unchaperoned in Times Square with Seth (Jake T. Austin), the boy she likes.

Among the many characters' trials, tribulations and pressures, there are a few surprising twists and turns and even a few songs, but it is mostly contrived and predictable. At the film's core are messages about second chances, forgiveness and new beginnings. I can't possibly hate a film that has good intentions. Unfortunately, New Year's Eve is filled with too much silly behavior and unbelievable situations that don't ring true. By the time the New Year rings in, this bland film will be like 2011, a thing of the past, but unlike that year, unmemorable.

 

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