By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
“There are more celebrities here than in rehab.” So says a character in New Year’s Eve, offering a remarkably appropriate capsule description of this exasperatingly superficial, one-dimensional concoction.
For folks who love seeing celebrities anywhere, for others who find casting directors the most fascinating members of a movie’s production team, and for those who would prefer to see lots of stars in a bad movie rather than one star in a good one, have a happy New Year’s Eve.
The rest of us will be over here wishing the champagne weren’t so flat.
If the remarkably resistible romcom New Year’s Eve is a commercial hit, as his Valentine’s Day was, director Garry Marshall just might work his way through every conceivable holiday as a calendar-determined premise.
Well, let’s see, Groundhog Day is taken. As are Halloween and Independence Day. How about Flag Day? Are you ready for Arbor Day? April Fool’s Day? Will you line up to see Columbus Day?
But I digress.
Not surprisingly, Valentine’s Day was a mediocre grab bag of vignettes, long on cameo appearances but short on credibility. His followup, another ensemble romantic comedy from the more-is-more school of moviemaking, invites half of Hollywood to the New Year’s Eve party.
That includes Robert De Niro as a dying man, Katherine Heigl as a caterer, Sarah Jessica Parker as a worried mom, Zac Efron as a courier, Josh Duhamel as a traveling businessman, Michelle Pfeiffer as an executive secretary, Halle Berry as a nurse, Ashton Kutcher as an elevator passenger, Hilary Swank as a Times Square executive, Jon Bon Jovi as a rock star, Carla Gugino as a midwife, Seth Meyers as an expectant dad, Sofia Vergara as a chef, Ludacris as a Times Square cop, Lea Michele as a backup singer, Abigail Breslin as a frustrated daughter, Ryan Seacrest as himself, and Marshall’s good-luck charm, Hector Elizondo, as a guy on the ball.
Among many others. Not that there’s anyone left unemployed.
And their many different romantic and melodramatic storylines involving cardboard-cutout characters on the final day of the year and New York City’s Times Square (speaking of dropping the ball) crisscross and intersect until the stroke of midnight.
Producer and director Marshall (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, The Princess Diaries, Beaches), once again functioning as a virtual traffic cop, brings back Valentine’s Day‘s Jessica Biel and Kutcher while welcoming the thriving local populace to his cast and then letting everyone alone to act in whatever style each of them sees fit.
Why bother with uniformity at a to-each-his-or-her-own performance bash?
The result feels shallow and cynical and thoughtless and extravagantly inconsequential. Dramatically, the film is about as urgent and compelling as a broadcast of “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” on television on the night in question.
The script by Katherine Fugate, who also wrote the screenplay for Valentine’s Day, is Necco-wafer thin, dangling fragments of stories and fleeting sketches and then snatching them away before we develop any kind of cerebral interest in, or emotional attachment to, any of the subplots.
We gawk and then they’re gone. Somebody turn off the lights.
So we’ll count down 2 stars out of 4 for this lightweight, celebrity-stuffed omnibus, New Year’s Eve. Like the song almost says, should our acquaintance with it be forgot and never brought to mind? Sounds like a plan.