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Garry Marshall grubs for money in detestable 'New Year's Eve'

Warner Bros.

By Akshay Seth, Daily Arts Writer
Published December 12, 2011

Twenty well-recognized movie stars half-heartedly trying to peddle two hours of uninterrupted bullshit. That, in a sentence, sums up “New Year’s Eve,” the pointless romantic comedy brought to us by the great minds behind the similarly meaningless “Valentine’s Day.”

And to think, almost two years have passed since that trainwreck of a film came out. Everyone was already starting to forget, to move on and to remember director Garry Marshall’s (“Pretty Woman”) better years. Then, as if to reclaim his status as a filmmaker dancing to the whims of Hollywood execs, Marshall churns out this masterpiece.

To call this movie bad would be a disservice to all the other crappy movies that came out this year. At least those other movies didn’t try to shove Nivea skin care products down our throats at the slightest opportunity. (Granted, Nivea sells a large chunk of the merchandise at Times Square on New Year’s Eve, but seriously, when was the last time we saw every single New Yorker sporting that fashionable Nivea foam hand and hat?)

Dragging on for nearly two hours, “New Year’s Eve” boils down to nothing more than a tedious game of waiting out the clock. The horrifying aspect is seeing how badly the film can shake your belief in the motion picture industry over the course of those two hours. For one, there’s no real believable plot to tie the story together. Instead, the writer (Katherine Fugate, “Valentine’s Day”) slapped together a paltry mash-up of idiotic little subplots involving 20 different New Yorkers as they prep for the titular New Year’s Eve celebration.

In all honesty, the best way to show the utter senselessness of these stories is to describe the most interesting ones. Zac Efron (“High School Musical”) plays a bike messenger trying to help a boring, middle-aged woman (Michelle Pfeiffer, “Hairspray”) fulfill all of her New Year’s resolutions — it really is as stupid as it sounds — in exchange for tickets to a party.

Somehow, two-time Oscar winners Hillary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”) and Robert DeNiro (“Limitless”) find themselves on this waste of a movie set. Swank plays a nervous business executive responsible for organizing the New Year’s ball drop, and DeNiro portrays a bedridden old man whose final wish is to catch a glimpse of Times Square at those final magical moments of the year.

Sometimes this vignette-based narrative structure can work. But in order for that to happen, each little story must be able to stand on its own and bring something unique to the table, so that the final product appears as multi-player as what we expect when we walk into the theater. The idea is a lot easier to imagine than to execute, and this film proves why.

It doesn’t help that every character showcases the innocence and naïveté of a five-year-old. The effect is touching when it becomes the hallmark of a single personality, but seeing it on every other character makes it seem overdone and foolish.

Seeing as this film was — in heart and mind — a follow-up to “Valentine’s Day,” there’s no reason to expect anything other than a bunch of recognizable movie stars paid to lure in weary holiday shoppers. So keep those 10 dollars for a little bit of extra Christmas shopping and save yourself the heartache of experiencing, firsthand, how commercialism can warp our film industry.


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