New Year’s Eve
dir Garry Marshall
scr Katherine Fugate
prd Richard Brener, Toby Emmerich, Mike Karz, Wayne Allan Rice, Josie Rosen
with Hilary Swank, Zac Efron, Michelle Pfeiffer, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Josh Duhamel, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Sofia Vergara, Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers, Til Schweiger, Sarah Paulson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Hector Elizondo, Carla Gugino
release UK 8.Dec.11, US 9.Dec.11
11/US New Line 1h58
New Year's Eve
A-listers take Manhattan: Efron and Pfeiffer (above), and Kutcher and Michele
New Year's Eve

swank duhamel heigl
Valentine's Day (2010)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
New Year's Eve The team that made the thin-but-enjoyable Valentine's Day reunites for another massively overextended rom-com with a remarkable A-list ensemble. But this time the stories and filmmaking overdose on ill-conceived schmaltz.

As the countdown to 2012 begins, an executive (Swank) is frazzled about a technical glitch in the iconic Time's Square ball-drop. Meanwhile, a courier (Efron) is trying to help a frumpy secretary (Pfeiffer) achieve her dreams. A chef (Heigl) is catering a glittering event while trying to avoid her rock star ex (Bon Jovi), whose back-up singer (Michele) is stuck in a lift with a lovelorn slacker (Kutcher). A mother (Parker) is worried about her teen daughter (Breslin). And a tuxedoed millionaire (Duhamel) is trying to get to an important event in the city.

We also follow a dying man (De Niro) and his sexy nurse (Berry), plus two couples (Biel and Myers, Schweiger and Paulson) racing to give birth at midnight. While the first film had some unexpected twists, this one goes down every predicted route, shying away from anything honest or boundary-pushing to stay as dull as possible. There's not one spark of recognisable truth as the filmmakers indulge in fantasy romance and trite moralising that actually makes you feel queasy.

It's difficult to narrow down the worst bits, but the most painful plot-thread is the one involving the embarrassingly underused De Niro, Berry and Swank (count the Oscars between them!). We never have the faintest doubt that Heigl and Bon Jovi will reunite, despite the meddling Vergara (as Heigl's sou chef) as a stupid version of her terrific Modern Family character. The Kutcher-Michele scenes are mortifying, Duhamel's journey agonisingly sappy, and the pregnancy contest couldn't be less interesting. Even the "surprise" cameos are a let-down.

The only strand that has any charm is the Efron-Pfeiffer story, which is undermined by their hugely contrived series of events as well as the hopeless miscasting of Pfeiffer: as if she could be dowdy. In the end, Efron is the only actor who brings any energy or sex-appeal. The rest of the time we're just longing for the clock to strike midnight so we can get out of the cinema.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 4.Dec.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall