New Year’s Eve comes with mixed emotions; either it is a holiday worth celebrating with plenty of champagne and kisses, or for others it is a nice night on the couch. The new year is a holiday that inherently celebrates oneself and what the new year has in store for you; the resolution that you hope keep and the person you hope to kiss. Garry Marshall’s take on the holiday tries very hard to be iconic but it falls short in every way. Much like his film Valentine’s Day the entire film takes place on one day and all of the storylines relate to the holiday, but unlike his previous film on a special day, New Year’s Eve is not good.
Set in New York City, everyone that is introduced is fated by the iconic ball drop from Times Square at midnight. Claire Morgan (Hilary Swank) has the job of making sure the ball drops while her father (Robert De Niro) is deathly ill in the hospital. Paul (Zac Efron) has been hired to make sure that all of Ingrid’s (Michelle Pfeiffer) resolutions come true. Randy (Ashton Kutcher) hates the holiday and gets stuck in an elevator with Elise (Lea Michele) who is also the back-up singer to famed pop star Jensen, played by Jon Bon Jovi, who is trying to win back the love of his life, Laura (Katherine Heigl). Two women (Jessica Beil and Sarah Paulson) are competing in the hospital to give birth to the first baby of the year as they will win a cash prize while Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) struggles to keep her daughter in line but also finds time for her to get a kiss at midnight. Of course, these are not all of the characters but they are the main stories that get “resolved.”
“Resolved” is the problem in this film in that everything works out for everyone in a way that is predictable and trite. In Marshall’s other films the writing and interwoven arcs made the film interesting, with continuous surprises and laughs. Here, everything is so easy that there is really no conflict - it will work out exactly as you expect it and you are left as empty as the hollow ball that drops for the countdown.
None of the characters are very likable in the film. Perhaps it is the holiday, one that breeds a sort of selfishness, or maybe it is just what we are given, but all of the actions within the film do not translate from the screen to the individual watching it. The lead story between Jensen and his ex-fiance is given the most time but is never explained for he walked out on her a year before this because he was “scared” and now suddenly wants her back. She was badly hurt, as she should be, and they end up together, just in time for a New Year's kiss. I guess she wasn’t that hurt. Let’s just say that in every instance “guy gets girl” because in a film that has so many storylines and characters you can’t have too much time to make it complicated.
With this kind of celebrity talent it is supposed to be good but it only gets the film started. It is great to see so many familiar faces together but none of them act at their potential and most are typecast in a role that might make you think less of them. As a true sucker for romantic comedies and pleasantly predictable films, this was one that disappointed more than it charmed. Unfortunately New Year’s Eve tried to make light of a holiday that does not always bring people together and that not everybody likes and much like the fickle holiday, New Year’s Eve is a film that is as painful as a hangover from too much champagne.
There are a lot of extras on the Blu-ray that are just as polished as the film but are somewhat interesting. “The Magic of Times Square” has interviews with the cast and crew on the making of the film in New York. “Secrets of the Stars” has every star talk about what they do on New Year’s and how they feel about resolutions. There is an extra on the live music in the film, performed by Jon Bon Jovi and Lea Michele, and also a few deleted scenes (which are better cut than in the film). There is also a polished blooper reel and commentary by Garry Marshall on the film.
New Year's Eve is currently available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and for download.