New Year’s Eve is an all around poorly made movie. The writing is lazy, the interconnecting tissue between the ensemble is at best thin and just the overall plot never really had the proper flow; even Valentine’s Day seemed to have a more cohesive story.
Genre(s): Drama, Comedy, Romance
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 118 min. – $35.99 | May 1, 2012
Directed by: Garry Marshall
Writer(s): Katherine Fugate (written by)
Cast: Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Hector Elizondo, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Til Schweiger, Hilary Swank, Sofia Vergara
Theatrical Release Date: December 9, 2011
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, BD-Live, DVD Copy, UltraViolet Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Slip Cover? Yes
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 24.2 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 1.25/5
Let love be your resolution. If only I could put in mine to not see schmaltzy, unfunny romantic comedies, then that’d be awesome. Sadly, Garry Marshall’s holiday follow-up from 2010’s Valentine’s Day (at best an average flick), New Year’s Eve is absolutely awful, holding no charm and doesn’t even try linking the variety of bland characters…or at least does it in the laziest fashion.
The story, such as it is, following different characters leading up to the dropping of the ball to ring in 2012:
One story follows the adventures of bicycle courier, and all around pretty boy, Paul (ZAC EFRON) as he takes the older Ingrid (MICHELLE PFEIFFER) around New York City to mark off her 2011 resolutions list, the first one she took care of by quitting her job from her obnoxious boss (JOHN LITHGOW in an uncredited cameo).
Randy (ASHTON KUTCHER playing a different character from VD) hates New Year’s and all that it brings but he gets stuck in an elevator with the lovely Elise (LEA MICHELE) for hours.
Griffin (SETH MEYERS) and Tess (JESSICA BIEL) are expecting their first child and compete with James (TIL SCHWEIGER) and Grace (SARAH PAULSON) to receive the $25,000 reward for having the first baby of the year.
Laura (KATHERINE HEIGL) is a cook preparing for the biggest party of the night headlined by former flame, and star singer, Jensen (JON BON JOVI) who proposed marriage but sprinted away at the last minute a year before.
Kim (SARAH JESSICA PARKER) is a divorced mother trying to deal with her teenage daughter (ABIGAIL BRESLIN), a straight arrow who wants to spend New Year’s with her school crush.
Stan Harris (ROBERT DE NIRO) is a dying man refusing treatment and wants to spend his last hours watching the ball drop from the hospital roof, which his doctor (CARY ELWES) can’t allow, but in the meantime, receives comfort from Nurse Aimee (HALLE BERRY).
Sam (JOSH DUHAMEL) is a successful executive who needs to get to NYC for a big speech and to possibly meet the woman of his dreams he had met the year before, never getting her name and only a message to meet her there at the same spot at midnight.
Finally, and probably the more central storyline if there was one, follows Claire (HILARY SWANK) on her debut as the executive in charge of the ball drop, receiving support from a NYPD officer (CHRIS “LUDACRIS” BRIDGES).
Sure, I could’ve spiced that summary up, but why set you up for disappointment considering how dull and uninspiring each one of them is. The other problem, aside from the story issues, is the filmmakers’ didn’t even make an attempt to creatively bring some of these characters together and instead have more or less a tether stringing them. For instance, it’s established early on that Paul (Efron) and Randy are best friends but this is merely done via phone conversations. Another one, we find out Paul is in fact the younger brother of one of the other characters (got to keep something in this movie a surprise). This is a problem because one of the few things that make these ensemble movies run is seeing how they are connected to one another; hell, I think Valentine’s Day did a better job at, comparatively speaking of course.
But even setting that aside, this is a downright dull and boring movie. For romance it’s not exactly schmaltzy enough, for a drama it’s melodramatic given we’ve got a man on his deathbed (perhaps symbolic for De Niro’s career) and as a comedy, there’s not one damn thing funny or even charming. Give me something or somebody to like, somebody whom I care about their circumstances. I suppose Halle Berry’s character has some of that as she talks with her husband (played by Common, losing even more credibility in his brief appearance) over the Internet as he’s serving overseas.
As far as the direction is concerned, I have to ask what happened to Garry Marshall. Obviously he never was a great director, he has helmed a few good flicks in the past including Pretty Woman, Nothing in Common, Overboard and even tearjerker, Beaches and yet he also has Exit to Eden, Georgia Rule and Valentine’s Day on his resume. New Year’s Eve is easily his worst film to date, offering little value beyond nice looking cinematography and travelogue of New York City.
It’s not enough to bring together some famous/beautiful actors together but you have to also have characters and a story the audience give a hoot about. The trailers might’ve made this look like an acceptable romantic comedy but instead little about it really works. If you value your time (it clocks in at nearly two hours), please skip New Year’s Eve.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
This release comes with a glossy, title-embossed, slip cover. Inside, Warner has once again employed a flipper disc (as they did with A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas) and a slip with a code for the UltraViolet Digital Copy.
Feature Commentary – Producer/Director Garry Marshall delivers a dry but sometimes humorous commentary offering up tidbits about filming and working with the different cast members. I kind of prefer if he had someone else, say one of the 100 cast members, join him but for a solo track, it’s not bad, but nothing great either.
The Magic of Times Square (6:12; HD) – In this featurette we get cast/crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage as they talk about shooting in Times Square and what makes it so special on New Year’s Eve. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
New Year’s Eve Secrets of the Stars (6:14; HD) – The cast talk about their most memorable New Year’s moments and what they do and have done in the past. All of it is mixed in with more BTS shots. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Jon Bon Jovi & Lea Michele Rock New Year’s Eve (5:23; HD) – This featurette focuses on the rock band singer working with Glee’s Michele. I had to snicker at the description on the back cover stating “Superstar rocker Jon Bon Jovi makes his highly anticipated return to film…” Um, who exactly was craving for his return? ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Deleted Scenes (16:59; HD) – You get a selection of scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut (including one with John Stamos) and there are two options, one you can watch with introductions by Garry Marshall and one without (clocks in at 7:48). ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Gag Reel (11:04; HD) – You’ll quickly find out that Garry Marshall loves gag reels and he tells you so in an introduction. Nothing special but at least it looks like the actors are having a good time; also, some of these can be seen during the end credits.
BD-Live – Yep, a staple on any Blu-ray is a portal to… some random stuff from Warner. Yawn. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Preview – Rock of Ages
Also included is a DVD Copy and it looks like a retail version containing both features (commentary and gag reel).
VIDEO – 4.5/5
New Year’s Eve glitters onto Blu-ray with a sharp looking 1080p high-def presentation. The film is presented with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio (originally 1.85) and is actually better than expected especially considering Warner’s HD track record of late. The colors are vibrant without looking blown up and the detail level throughout are pretty impressive. Black levels are also nice to look at showing no signs of flaws like pixilation or artifacting.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track offers up a wide range from quieter dialogue-driven moments which sound crisp and clear to the musical numbers which shows off the track’s depth more. I wouldn’t call this a pulsating lossless track but still fairly impressive given the genre.
OVERALL – 2.75/5
Overall, New Year’s Eve is an all around poorly made movie. The writing is lazy, the interconnecting tissue between the ensemble is at best thin and just the overall plot never really had the proper flow; even Valentine’s Day seemed to have a more cohesive story. Simply put, I hated, hated, HATED this movie and the only redeeming factor (and trust me, it’s thin), is that the cinematography looks good and it’s not nearly as awful compared with the other dreck I’ve seen in 2011. Not much of an endorsement, it’s still something.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.