If you were going to rip off the concept of a film, why would you pick Love, Actually? Oh right, money, yeah that’s it. Garry Marshall and Katherine Fugate continue their systematic production line of ensemble cast comedies (after last year’s Valentine’s Day) with New Year’s Eve, an unashamedly mawkish, over sentimental, cynical piece of offensive guff which is one of the most irritating things of 2011.
It features a truckload of interlocking storylines including Ashton Kutcher as a man who hates New Year’s Eve (making him the only sane man in the film) who gets stuck in a lift with his neighbour Elise (Glee’s Lea Michele); Katherine Heigl as a caterer struggling to reconcile her relationship with Jon Bon Jovi and Hilary Swank as party organiser wrestling with the “ball drop” – the moment when a big ornamental sphere falls down a stick to celebrate the new year.
Meanwhile Zac Efron plays a mouthy courier who’s trying to get a mousy office worker (Michelle Pfeiffer) through her own bucket list; Jessica Biel and Seth Myers star as a couple trying to win a cash prize by having the first baby of 2012; Sarah Jessica Parker plays a single mum struggling to restrain her rebellious 15 year old party-loving daughter (Abigail Breslin) and Halle Berry plays a nurse doing her best to accommodate the last wishes of an old man (Robert De Niro).
New Year’s Day is utterly dreadful. It’s cynically constructed from start to finish and there’s a nagging feeling that the stars had more fun in their parts (which couldn’t have taken more than a few days) than an audience could ever get from watching them.
The script is horribly, toxically mawkish featuring more mugging to camera and false attempts at emotional manipulation than should actually be possible. So we get Hilary Swank spouting lines imploring us to “stop worrying about the what-ifs and start thinking about the what-will-bes” which is un-ironically applauded by a captivated audience and frequently unintentionally hilarious lines from Robert De Niro in which he claims “I thought knew death in Vietnam but nothing prepared me for this”.
Its crimes don’t end there though. There are numerous bits of ugly stereotypical humour including an appearance by Sofia Vergara as a “feisty” South American woman and Russell Peters as an Indian sous-chef and a scene where a 15-year old Abigail Breslin flashes her bra at Sarah Jessica Parker while screeching “This is not a training bra!”
On top of that, there are so many plots and characters, that there’s not enough time for any character development meaning that New Year’s Eve is essentially just a series of emotionally vacuous and poorly stitched together clichéd vignettes with all the genuine feeling of a bored telemarketer.
Every other scene is drenched in repulsively egregious product placement but worst of all is a scene in which we’re asked to consider “the real meaning of New Year’s Eve” while the camera holds unflinching on a huge poster of Sherlock Holmes 2 which is conveniently out around Christmas time. Poisonous, repugnant sludge – avoid at all costs.