'New Year's Eve' Blu-ray Review: Glossy, Gift-Wrapped Ode to Excess

Director Garry Marshall's "New Year's Eve" arrives on home video with so much star wattage it hardly needs the gloss of high definition to pop off the screen.

Yet the Blu-ray version of the film, available today, is so spectacularly vivid it seems like more of a red carpet affair than vignette-laden tale.

Yes, Marshall's approach to the modern rom-com, typified by his 2010 hit "Valentine's Day," is cranked up to 11 in "New Year's Eve." To list the famous folks here is to overwhelm this here InterWeb. Suffice to say nearly every part large, small and microscopic, is gobbled up by a familiar presence.

The story itself feels like a 1980s sitcom, complete with the "ba-da-dum" beats and hackneyed conflicts. And yet ... and yet ... there's still snippets of movie magic going on here. You can't assemble this much talent and not have that happen.

"New Year's Eve" follows several not so interlocking stories about people experiencing their singular holiday meltdowns. Hilary Swank plays a woman in charge of the iconic ball dropping at 11:59 p.m., but a technical glitch may prevent the new year from arriving. Halle Berry plays the most attractive nurse in modern movie history, a woman trying to bring comfort to a dying man's final hours. Josh Duhamel, an actor who seems more than ready to ascend to the A-list if the right role ever comes his way, plays a man wistful for a love connection made last December 31. And Ashton Kutcher gets stuck in an elevator with "Glee" standout Lea Michele.

The film, chockablock with all these recognizable faces, can't give them all enough time to leave a mark. Kutcher may fare the best here, as he did with "Valentine's Day," although Seth Meyers proves he's more than a "Saturday Night Live" faux anchor as the harried hubbie of a very pregnant looking Jessica Biel.

Frankly, it's hard to lose yourself in characters like Berry's heartfelt nurse when you know she's got an Oscar sitting on her mantle back at home. The role is beneath her, so it's leagues below the likes of Robert De Niro as her dying patient.

The film's in your face artificiality comes into sharper focus whenever yet another famous face appears. Look, there's "Ferris Bueller" himself, Matthew Broderick, in the type of flimsy cameo a Hollywood waitress might reject.

And what's Jim Belushi doing here, anyway?

"New Year's Eve" is aggressively lightweight, but it sure is one pretty HD picture - with or without the stars on parade. And Marshall throws in a few "only in New York" flourishes that remind you of his gritty roots.

The Blu-ray extras include a gag reel, deleted scenes, audio commentary from Marshall, a bit called "The Magic of Times Square" letting the film's stars wax philosophical about New Year's Eve and an extended look at Bon Jovi and Michele rockin' out on faux New Year's Eve.

"New York is the heartbeat of our culture," Kutcher says in the extras, while his co-stars admit spending New Year's Eve in Times Square can be ... uncomfortable. And bitterly cold.

And the film's gag reel got a little extra love from Marshall, who says he's that rare director who actually dubs it, changes sound and gets special music for it. He also added some well placed "bleeps" when the cast pretended the film was R, not PG-13.


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