Did you enjoy the Garry Marshall movie Valentine’s Day? If so, you will like New Year’s Eve.
Directed by Marshall and written by Katherine Fugate (who wrote the screenplay for Valentine's Day), the film supports a huge cast of Hollywood big names including Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Sofía Vergara, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Josh Duhamel, Hilary Swank, Ludacris, and Ryan Seacrest.It also features appearances from John Lithgow, Hector Elizondo, Cherry Jones, Penny Marshall, Larry Miller, Jack McGee, Yeardley Smith, Joey McIntyre, James Belushi, Common, Carla Gugino, Til Schweiger, Seth Meyers, Sarah Paulson, Alyssa Milano, and Cary Elwes. Like Valentine’s Day, most of the actors are only in the film for a matter of minutes or for one scene.
Set in New York City before the celebration to ring in the New Year, the plot is the very definition of an ensemble film with several storylines that eventually all come together as the ball drops.
The various stories include two couples racing to deliver their babies by midnight to win a $25,000 prize; a teen girl sneaking out to enjoy her first kiss at the stroke of midnight; a rock star trying to win back the love of his life – who happens to be a chef hosting a big new Year’s Eve party for celebrities; a woman doing a bucket list of New Year’s resolutions before midnight; a man dying who wants to live long enough to see the ball drop; and a romance that has been a year in waiting.
Of all the storylines, my personal favorite was the two couples rushing to have a baby before midnight to win $25,000. Meyers, Biel, Paulson and Schweiger (who should do more comedy because he was hilarious) practically steal the entire movie, and I wish Marshall and Fugate would have scrapped all the other plots and changed it just to a movie about these two couples.
You can’t help but crack up as Biel bumps her belly against Paulson to tell her “it’s on!” Throw in Gugino whacky doctor and this would make a great comedy – or at least better than New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day combined.
Pfeiffer and Efron also make the most of their storyline and surprisingly have great chemistry. Pfeiffer’s character has a huge bucket list of New Year’s Resolutions and it is up to Efron to make them come true if he wants tickets to the celebrity party. The journey is enjoyable thanks to the natural chemistry the two actors quickly establish.
Although most of the story elements are enjoyable, the love story between Heigl’s chef and Bon Jovi’s rock star was extremely grating – mostly because the two actors had zero chemistry together and the romance seemed extremely forced.
The same can be said of the blossoming romance between Kutcher and Michele. The characters meet in the typical romantic comedy style and are in love by the time the credits roll.
New Year’s Eve isn’t a horrible movie, but you do have to be a fan of the genre to really enjoy it. It follows the romantic comedy formula to the letter and does little to add anything new to the genre. About halfway through the movie, you stop watching it for the story and start playing “spot the celebrity cameo” (I loved Penny Marshall popping up). This keeps the movie entertaining, but also shows how little the audience really cares about the story or the characters.
Thankfully, Garry Marshall makes sure to make the Blu-ray worth the purchase price with a wealth of special features that range from deleted scenes to various making of features. It also has a great gag reel with an introduction by Marshall (who explains he loves gag reels so much he makes sure they have new music and production values). The gag reel is almost as funny as the movie and shows that Marshall makes sure his cast and crew have a great time making the movie.
While New Year’s Eve fails to offer anything new, fans of the romantic comedy genre or Marshall’s other holiday film will find plenty to enjoy. A couple of the storylines manage to bring some laughs and the amount of Hollywood talent will keep entertain until the end credits.
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