What movie features starring roles by Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Abigail Breslin, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Ludacris, Seth Meyer, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Sofía Vergara, and Robert Di Niro (yes, Robert Di Niro)? Oh, and as added bonus get to hear Jon Bon Jovi and Lea Michele of “Glee” sing.
That movie would be the 2011 film “New Year’s Eve”, directed by Gary Marshall of “Pretty Woman” fame. Released last New Year’s Eve to laughable reviews and a scourge of worst ten lists, “New Year’s Eve” is the kind of feel good fluff movie critics feel obligated to slam. But truth be told, the hostile reaction to “New Year’s Eve”, and especially its inclusion on vitriolic worst ten lists, almost seems nonsensical. Such harshness should be resolved for incompetence and the trend toward vague and lazy storytelling that leads nearly three hour running times for even summer comedies and B-movie genre fare. “New Year’s Eve” on the other hand, knows what it is and accomplishes exactly what it intends to do with all the slickness and sentimentality one would expect from the director of “Pretty Woman”.
“New Year’s Eve” is basically a reworking of an old ABC anthology television series from the early 1970s called “Love, American Style” in which a quartet of interconnected romantic comedy storylines were featured in a vignette format. Of course for this film, the setting is Times Square on New Year’s Eve as the various characters move toward life changing moments of interconnected fate and destiny as the countdown toward midnight begins.
Make no mistake, “New Year’s Eve” is junk; a shameless, sentimental claptrap of romantic clichés. But it is good junk. Really good junk actually; shrewdly directed to showcase the considerable charisma and formidable star power of the celebrity filled cast. Hillary Swank and Robert Di Nero actually deliver good work in a touching storyline, as does Halle Berry. Zac Efron and Michelle Pfieffer are a pure joy to watch. Hollywood handsome Josh Duhamel lights up the screen. Katherine Heigl is solid as always. Ashton Kutcher is charming, and when Lea Michele sings it is pure magic.
“New Year’s Eve” is making the rounds on the cable premium channels this weekend and has developed a minor cult following on DVD. If you don’t drink, are anti-social, have no friends, or simply prefer to stay in as the ball drops, you could certainly do worse on New Year’s Eve then spending a couple of feel good hours with the cast of “New Year’s Eve”.