Last year, director Garry Marshall managed to do the unthinkable: he made Valentines day even more of a commercial event with the film of the same name. Whilst it helped break a box office record (largest President’s Day opening weekend ever), it was one of the worst pictures of 2010. Now, he’s back again to suck the life out of another (questionable) holiday period: New Years Eve. It follows a similar formula to its predecessor, and thankfully is a little more enjoyable, but by no means is it a film that’s worth your time or money.
Utilizing the numerous narrative format that was also seen in Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve follows a number of seemingly random people in New York City and chronicles their plans for December 31st 2011. These include two pregnant women who battle it out to give birth to the first baby of 2012 for a cash prize (classy, I know), a pessimistic tenant who gets stick in a lift with a the ‘new girl’ who’s just moved in, we also follow the organiser of the “ball drop” from One Times Square building and the problems that occur. I could go on and on (like the seemingly endless plots of the movie) but I’ll stop here. They are all devoid of any emotion, even one in particular that involves an ailing Robert De Niro, and it’s simply because (much like Valentine’s Day) there’s just not enough time spent on the stories. The cast list reads like a who’s who of C-list celebrities (yes, even Di Niro now), and their performances are as average as you’d expect. The final act tries much to hard to tie everything up and connect all the stories; one that involves Zac Efron is truly unbelievable and is the definition of ‘scraping the barrel’. I will give a bit of credit (and the second star of this review, actually) to the way the narrative of Sam, the bachelor who waits a year for a girl he met last New Years Eve. I can honestly say it baffled me as to who he was going to meet, but when the big reveal happens, it makes even less sense in the grand scheme of things.
Now I can live with product placement in movies. It’s just ‘one of those things’, and without it, I assume a lot of films would have problems finding the funds to complete production. But New Years Eve takes the biscuit when it comes to blatant advertising of real life products; if this film doesn’t make you want to watch Sherlock Holmes 2 or use Nivea face cream, then nothing will. But that’s all this film was made for: money. One of the ever-so-forced bloopers confirms this, as the pregnant woman from the “have the first baby for money” story gives birth to… Valentines Day on DVD and Blu Ray (something that I’ve never actually seen available to buy in shops). The first was so successful that some bright spark had the brainwave to make a movie about another day of the year that everyone celebrates. Unfortunately for the movie studios (but fortunate to many a-boyfriend), it appears that the general public have finally come to their senses, and are steering clear of it, as it made only $13.7 million in its opening weekend.
That probably won’t stop Warner from making more films like this, and with it being American (who seem to have a holiday for almost every conceivable occasion) I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Leif Erikson Day coming a cinema near you soon. Starring Ashton Kutcher, of course.