Like its predecessor Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve is yet another attempt at encapsulating the independent spirit of a well-worn consumerized holiday into one film. Director Gary Marshall leads a who’s who of Hollywood in search of an easy paycheck through a mish-mash of cliches that leave zero surprises. In fact, the film’s only surprises came when yet another castmember not featured in the trailer was revealed to the star-struck audience.
It would be pointless to regurgitate the list of celebrities involved with this film, or even one of the many plotlines that taken alone, one would struggle to write even a sentence about let alone a review. Suffice it to say, New Year’s Eve is a bunch of celebrities (some A-list, some not), in various shades of bronzer, playing characters the audience has little time to get invested in, meandering through a dozen different wacky situations with the single purpose of trying to find the ooey-gooey meaning of the New Year holiday. A film like this gets around the shallowness of its characters by casting well-known actors in roles that made them famous to begin with (Sarah Jessica Parker is Carrie Bradshaw in this film, shoe jokes and all. Brace yourself). But it takes a lot more then that to be fooled into liking and caring about these characters. The one exception being Robert DeNiro, who can turn even the mush of this film into something palatable. There’s no substance, you already know what’s going to happen, and while everything in this script is textbook romcom there is a possibility you may leave with a warm fuzzy in your heart. Until the next person in line at Walmart decides to pepper-spray you over a TV.
The warm moments in this film are fleeting, and any sentiment comes with an eye-roll. But what I do find intriguing about New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day is the idea of a movie that collects celebrities, and only expects them to have a good time. As much of a schmaltz fest as this movie is, you can tell that everyone was probably laughing on set and that loose, relaxed attitude comes across on screen. These kinds of films play with the idea of spoofing the stuffiness of Hollywood (especially during awards season) and just kicking back and having fun. I can deal with the wrong in this movie because the last thing it wants to be is right.
New Year’s Eve opens today in Philly-area theaters.