'New Year's Eve' Review: Rom-Com a Terrible Way to Start 2012

There’s something that can be said for the subtlety of emotions. A knowing glance. An inconspicuous nod. A slight glare. All of these things show how emotions can be depicted onscreen in films that create complicated characters. “New Year’s Eve” is not one of those movies.

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Director Garry Marshall’s latest comedy merely seeks superficial satisfaction from its characters and finds them displaying their emotions overtly, with no hint of depth or subtlety. If a woman is angry, she throws eggs at the wall. If a person is nervous, they mug for the camera during a radio interview. There’s no texture to these actions. And it’s not a surprise to see them in a movie like this which celebrates celebrities at the expense of its characters.

As I predicted several months ago, “Eve” looked like a carbon copy of Marshall’s latest film, “Valentine’s Day.” Despite its numerous and abundantly clear flaws, I enjoyed Marshall’s earlier film. It was fluffy but satisfying. Compared to “Eve” though, “Day” was “Citizen Kane.”

As the title suggests, all of the characters in this new film are preparing for the new year. Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer), who is by far the most likable character, is writing a list of her New Year’s resolutions. She recruits a young bike manager (Zac Efron) to make her wishes come true. Meanwhile, a young couple (Seth Meyers and Jessica Biel) are preparing for their first child when they realize that there’s a cash prize if their baby is the first one born in 2012. Once they find that out, these wannabe parents become obnoxious psychos as they spend their day trying to induce labor. With parents like these, it’s no wonder the baby is so wary of coming out. In the meantime, the woman who manages the ball drop in Times Square (Hilary Swank) finds out that the ball is stuck with only hours to go before the new year.

Katherine Fugate, who wrote the screenplay for “Valentine’s Day,” penned this follow-up comedy. But her script includes a few ridiculous story lines and terrible dialogue. When a reporter notes how the Times Square ball isn’t moving, he says, the “ball is in a state of stuck.” So is this movie.

If you love watching celebrities “New Year’s Eve” may be the movie for you. If one celebrity from this movie graced the front of U.S. Weekly each week, the magazine could have their covers lined up for roughly the next 45 years. In addition to the stars I have already mentioned, Katherine Heigl is in this movie. So is Jon Bon Jovi. And Robert De Niro. Ashton Kutcher shows up as well along with Halle Berry, Sarah Jessica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Josh Duhamel and Ryan Seacrest. If that’s not enough, some B-list celebrities show up including Alyssa Milano from “Who’s the Boss!” and Joey McIntyre from the “New Kids on the Block.”

Sometimes films use celebrities to get people in the door. And that might help with this new film. If each celebrity in this movie brings two people, there would be approximately 30,000 people buying tickets on opening night.

I don’t mean to be too harsh, but “New Year’s Eve” is a great disappointment. I can see why people enjoyed “Valentine’s Day” but the corniness in this movie is too over the top. Combine that with genuinely unlikable characters who are trying to induce labor and terrible dialogue, this movie qualifies as one of the year’s worst.

As for Pfeiffer, she survives this movie with most of her dignity intact. Which is more than can be said for most of her cast mates.

The New Year’s Eve ball may eventually drop –I won’t ruin the surprise or lack thereof –but if it does, it won’t be the only thing going down during the course of this movie. Your hope for a few decent laughs or a couple of nice surprises will sink along with it.


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