Movie review: New Year’s Eve

 Katherine Heigl and Sofia Vergara are two of the many stars who appear in Gary Marshall’s new film New Year’s Eve.

By Maggie Scott

Gary Marshall Fails Again with This Stinker, New Year’s Eve

  For director Garry Marshall, the year 2011 will end on a low note, even as he looks forward with certainty for his new film, New Year’s Eve, to capture awards on the order of The Golden Turkey and worst picture Razzie. 

I predict critic Roger Ebert will want to include it in his new edition of “Your Movie Sucks,” and reviewers will unanimously file opinions on the order of Andrew Barker of Variety: “…like being crushed under an avalanche of throw pillows.”

Marshall’s last (and some say only) big hit was Pretty Woman in 1990.  He’s plodded along since then with moderately popular works like Frankie & Johnny, Runaway Bride and the Princess Diaries films.  Since last year’s Valentine’s Day was so successful (not!), Marshall apparently decided no one would mind another movie of similar stripe.

But, it is soon all too clear that the big crystal ball in Times Square should have come down on Marshall’s head and knocked some sense into him.  Quoting critic Ebert, Marshall’s effort with Valentine’s Day came off like “Russian jugglers racing to keep their plates spinning on poles.”  Same exact, here.

Marshall must inspire the most sincere loyalties and friendship with performers. Most of the cast have already proven their worth, and don’t have to worry about this stinker sinking their careers. Which means, Marshall and his stars really put their hearts and sincere thespian talents into this schmaltzy group New Year’s best wishes to America.

As the title suggests, the action takes place over the last day of the year.  Most of the characters have connections with one another to greater or lesser degree, and are all part of the delirious madness of Times Square at midnight.  Resolutions (of the plot kind, that is) run the gamut from birth to death; from new love to renewed love; from cynic to believer; from repressed life to embracing life.

Screenwriter Katherine Fugate can be faulted for cramming just one more “type” into the script, and mildly praised for keeping the pin-balling scenes introducing and expounding on their adventures mostly coherent (you do need a score card).  Here are some, not all, of Fugate’s dramatis personae:

A bicycle messenger (Zac Efron) helping a dowdy mouse live her bucket list (Michelle Pfeiffer); a catering company chef and owner (Katherine Heigl) working (and slapping!) it out with her ex-lover—a superstar musician (Jon Bon Jovi); a corporate heir (Josh Duhamel) rejecting the player life for true love (even though he’s Prince Charming looking for last New Year’s Eve’s Cinderella); the organizer (Hilary Swank) of the Square’s massive event, facing a crisis with the equipment and delivering a message about the real meaning of midnight; a teen (Abigail Breslin) fighting for her belief that life is full of promise, not peril, against the over-protective worries of her mother (Sarah Jessica Parker); a dying man  (Robert De Niro) with many regrets holding on to life until he can see the ball drop one last time; two expectant couples (Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers; Sarah Paulson, Til Schweiger) competing for “first baby born in the New Year” prize money; an aspiring singer (Lea Michele) confirming her belief in herself while falling for a bah-humbug graphic artist (Ashton Kutcher) in a stuck freight elevator with a singer (Lea Michelle) ; a nurse (Halle Berry) pining for a loved one she can only see through her computer.

Cameos of mostly-seen-on-TV actors (and, Matthew Broderick), along with blah bits for people like Ludacris, Hector Elizondo, Alyssa Milano, and Sofia Vergara round out the soup-to-nuts ensemble.  While we want to see all actors involved in this effort back in 2012 with new projects, we hope against hope that Garry Marshall’s New Year’s resolution has something to do with no more big-screen ensemble comedies. A Warner Brothers picture, rated PG-13 for language and suggestive content.

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