The cast of New Year’s Eve positively baffles—and not just because of the sheer enormity of it.
Sure, we expect to see the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, and even Sarah Jessica Parker in this kind of disposable rom-com fare.
But what the hell are real actors like Hilary Swank, Halle Berry, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert freakin’ De Niro doing in it?
(Yeah, yeah, I know. . .rhymes with “honey.”)
Anyway, this is Garry Marshall’s second such ensemble holiday pic—the first was Valentine’s Day (which I mercifully didn’t see). I’m fairly certain that Mother’s Day—starring the Duggars, the Gosselins, and the entire Octomom clan— is already in the works.
Look, I get it: The films are supposed to be fluffy and fun—easy to digest, easy to forget. And Marshall figures, the law of averages says that at least one of your favorite stars has to be in it. (I do love me some Lea Michele.) British director Richard Curtis actually had great success with a similar formula in Love Actually (although that cast had a positively Beckettian minimalism compared to this one.)
But here’s the inherent problem with a film like this: It’s shallow. Nothing is developed. Most of the vignettes are half-baked at best and any vignette worth exploring is not given its due. (This, I suppose is a mixed blessing: Many of the storylines—like Duhamel’s rich heir Sam riding to a holiday banquet with a family in an RV—are barely worth the 12 minutes of screen time that they get.)
For me, the plot that actually worked best involved Seth Myers and his very pregnant wife (played by Jessica Biel) conniving to win a first-baby-of-the-New-Year reward, possibly because it was funny and slight—it played like an extended SNL skit.
I also liked the bit where Zac Efron plays a jacked-up bike messenger helping a mousy woman (Pfeiffer) fulfill her New Year’s resolutions. But that story only underscored the problem with the film—just as I got involved with these characters and more curious about their backstories, they moved onto Swank as a frazzled Time Square executive, who I couldn’t care less about.
The other really (and I mean really) annoying thing about this film? I counted not one, not two, but three sanctimonious speeches about following your bliss and treating people well in the new year. All these stars and guiding life philosophies, too? Guess I can scratch that resolution off my list!