DIRECTED BY: Gary Marshall
WRITTEN BY: Katherine Fugate
RATING: 3 stars
As Katherine Heigl's character says in New Year's Eve, “There's going to be more celebrities here than rehab.” I'm going to attempt to list the long and impressive cast in this film, so you'll forgive me if the list goes on too long and/or if I miss some people: Jon Bon Jovi, Josh Duhamel, Hilary Swank, Sarah Jessica Parker, Katherine Heigl, Zac Efron, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Biel, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Cary Elwes, Joey McIntyre, Alyssa Milano, Seth Myers, Abigail Breslin, Sophia Vergara, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, James Belushi, Cherry Jones, Ludacris, Hector Elizondo and Matthew Broderick.
Still with me? In what has become its own genre these days, there seems to be a film for just about every holiday and occasion whereby several short stories unfold over the course of a two-hour film until all the stories eventually tie together in some way. From the makers of Valentine's Day, we now have New Year's Eve, a film that shows audiences a seemingly typical New Year's Eve in New York.
One storyline follows a caterer named Laura (Heigl) who is catering an important New Year's Eve event when she runs into her famous rock star ex-boyfriend Jensen (Bon Jovi). The party is being hosted by rich man Sam (Duhamel) who is looking for a woman he met last New Year's Eve. Meanwhile, Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) is struggling to deal with her teenage daughter Hailey (Breslin) while Kim's brother Paul (Efron) tries to make Ingrid's (Pfeiffer) dreams come true in exchange for some tickets to Sam's party. He is also trying to convince his room-mate Randy (Kutcher) to join him at the party but Randy is against celebrating New Year's Eve. He ends up stuck in an elevator with Elise (Michele) who panics about missing her dream opportunity to sing with Jensen in Times Square. Meanwhile, at a hospital, two couples compete to win some prize money for having the first baby born in the new year while a nurse (Berry) cares for dying man Stan (De Niro). As all these stories unfold, Claire (Swank) is struggling as the New Year's Eve organiser in Times Square to make sure the famous ball drops at midnight.
If you're wondering how they can get a cast this eclectic for a romantic comedy, it's because it requires little work for the actors who only have a few scenes. It's also due to well-respected director, Gary Marshall who manages to bring out the best in his cast. There's no earth-shattering performances, but everyone does a relatively good job.
I'm renowned for being cynical about romantic comedies, but I do like these types of films because I invest less in the characters and story-lines, so I can enjoy them for what they are without being too picky about how unrealistic they are. The main problem with this film is that there are so many sub-plots going on that the film cannot accommodate them in two hours. We end up with a bunch of underdeveloped plots and characters. This is a shame because there are actually some potentially good plots I would have liked to have been fleshed out. The singing scenes are also a little cringe worthy. I adore Bon Jovi, but his duet with Glee star Michele, who I also usually like, just seemed like another Glee episode.
This film is certainly not breaking any new ground, but it delivers exactly what it promises its target audience of females. Don't take it too seriously, just enjoy it for what it is.