Friday, December 09, 2011

“New Year’s Eve” – Movie Review



This week in my movie class, we saw the new Garry Marshall romantic comedy, “New Year’s Eve”, apparently starring just about everyone in Hollywood.



The lives of several individuals all simultaneously come to something of a rousing crescendo at midnight on New Year’s Eve of 2011 in the Times Square section of New York City. 



Millions of people gather in New York City’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve to ring in 2012 and millions more around the nation and around the world watch the spectacle on television.  The annual event is the jewel in the crown of The Big Apple – and that’s why its organizer (Hilary Swank) is the embodiment of a control freak knowing that her job is on the line if all does not go well.  Scheduled to perform is famed rock star Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) who is momentarily reunited with his grudge-carrying former fiancée (Katherine Heigl), whom he left stranded prior to their scheduled wedding when he got cold feet at the last minute. 

That afternoon, Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer), a dowdy secretary, finally stands up for herself and quits her job – and with gobs of free time suddenly on her hands, she decides to fulfill her bucket list dreams before midnight with the help of a young bike messenger (Zac Efron).  At the same time, a sardonic young hipster (Ashton Kutcher) winds up getting stuck in the elevator of his apartment building with a new neighbor (Lea Michele), an aspiring singer scheduled to perform with Jensen this very night.  On what might be his last night on earth, a dying man (Robert De Niro) lies in his hospital bed hoping he’ll be able to celebrate one final New Year’s Eve before he goes. 

Also in the same hospital on that very night are a couple (Jessica Biel & Seth Meyers) for a very different reason – they are expecting their first baby!  But when they learn that the city is giving away a substantial monetary prize for the first baby born in the new year, will they be able to do whatever’s necessary to win?  And when a romantic single man (Josh Duhamel) rushes to the city from a Connecticut wedding, can he make it there in time for a reunion with the mysterious woman he met in the very same location a year ago last New Year’s Eve who promised she’d be there for him? 



One of the reasons why I take this class is to see movies before they are released so that I can make up my own mind about a picture rather than be influenced by professional film critics.  Sometimes, I hear a negative buzz about a movie, then see it in my class and scratch my head wondering why the critics disliked the flick as much as they did.  In the case of “New Year’s Eve”, I’d been hearing some particularly dreadful things from critics.  You know what?  This time, they were absolutely right!  If there’s one major motion picture that you should put on your “Must Avoid” list for 2011, “New Year’s Eve” has to be at or near the top. 

This movie tries very hard – way, way too hard, in fact – to be a charming little fluffy feel-good piece for the holiday season.  Instead, it falls so flat that it might as well be the ball that drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, such a loud thud will be heard upon its landing.  The filmmakers crammed way too many stars with far too many stories to follow or care about.  In addition to that, many of the attempted jokes are not even remotely funny.  Our instructor suggested that holiday movies are made so that when families gather during the season, they can all go out to see the films so that they don’t actually have to interact with each other.  To that, I would add that such a circumstance is literally the only excuse you should ever have to even consider seeing “New Year’s Eve”.  Either pick another movie or find something else to do – otherwise, this is guaranteed to cause a fight over spending the money for a ticket to see this annoying time waster. 

After the screening, our instructor interviewed the film’s director & producer, Garry Marshall.  Marshall, a naturally funny man and captivating raconteur, was – sad to say – considerably more entertaining than his movie.  He spoke at great length about his experience making this film, saying that while “New Year’s Eve” was already packed with stars, the studio kept pressuring him to add even more.  With an extensive and impressive filmography, Marshall was asked if he could pick one of his movies that was under-appreciated, which would it be?  Almost without hesitation, he picked “Nothing In Common”, starring Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason; I couldn’t believe it when he mentioned this movie  because it’s one of my favorites.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you rent it because it’s quite good.  Certainly considerably better than “New Year’s Eve”, that’s for sure. 


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