New Year's Eve

Directed By: Garry Marshall

Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jon Bon Jovi, Zac Efron, Ashton Kutcher, Hilary Swank, Abigail Breslin, Halle Berry, Katherine Heigl, Jessica Biel, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lea Michele, Josh Duhamel, Sofia Vergara, Ludacris, Til Schweiger, and Seth Meyers

New Year's Eve is one of my favorite days of the year.  The booze are freely flowing, and the party never stops no matter where you are.  If you happen to be in New York for New Year's, the holiday can be something special but it can also be especially annoying.  Whether caught in the masses flooding Times Square for the famous ball drop or trying to catch a cab anywhere in the city after the clock strikes midnight, you're in for a few headaches that will definitely kill your buzz in the wee hours of the morning.

When Garry Marshall decided to make the ensemble romantic comedy New Year's Eve about the biggest party day of the year in New York, I cringed.  I thought it would be one big, glorified commercial about how great New York is on the final night of the year, and that Marshall would waste a lot of great acting talent.  After having seen his latest film, it appears that I was right.  Much like its predecessor Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve is a load of sappy crap.

On New Year's Eve, a number of individuals who are seemingly unconnected try to celebrate the start of the new year in their own ways.  A dissatisfied secretary (Michelle Pfeiffer) quits her job and tries to actually achieve her resolutions for the new year.  At midnight, a 30-something executive (Josh Duhamel) plans to meet the woman he kissed last year at midnight.  A mom (Sarah Jessica Parker), who tends to stay in on the 31st and watch the ball drop in Times Square on television, fights to keep the family tradition alive with her rebellious teen daughter (Abigail Breslin) who wants to go to Times Square to hang out with her friends.  A backup singer (Lea Michele) and a man who hates New Year's Eve ( Ashton Kutcher) get stuck on an elevator together in their apartment complex for hours on the biggest party night of the year, a night on which she has to perform.  The Times Square Alliance's vice president (Hilary Swank) struggles to get the legendary ball working so that it actually drops for the new year.  Pregnant women (Jessica Biel and Sarah Paulson) compete to give birth to the first baby of the new year in a local New York hospital to win $25,000.  Finally, a nurse (Halle Berry) sits with a terminal cancer patient (Robert De Niro) as he celebrates his final new year. 

I covered most of the main plot lines in that summary, but there's just too much taking place in a film like this.  There's not even enough time to remember each character's name.  Every time you start to get into a storyline, Marshall switches to another and then another.  You have no time to invest in any character's tragic little story about how they're going to start the new year.  No actor could have spent more than 10 to 15 minutes on screen.  The best trick Marshall's got is cueing John Debney to play some sad song to evoke emotion from the audience, but that's worthless without some character development.  Marshall and Debney may not have evoked any emotion, but they certainly brought about a thirst for something with a little kick to drown out this awful filmmaking.

Marshall has some of the best actors in the business and wastes their potential.  He's got the legendary Robert De Niro, the ageless Halle Berry, and  the powerhouse actress Hilary Swank.  For better or worse, he's even got folks who are staples of the rom com genre such as Katherine Heigl and Sarah Jessica Parker.  How does he waste all that talent on set to produce this crap?  Josh Duhamel's character is just some sad soul looking for the woman he kissed last year when he rang in the new year, while Michelle Pfeiffer is a pathetic secretary who gives away tickets to one of the hottest parties in the city so she can meet her resolutions for the new year before it actually starts.  The actors all gave decent performances, but Marshall's effort to connect all the stories of these characters' lives in one big heartwarming commercial about ringing in the new year in the Big Apple is an epic failure.

Since the decent He's Just Not That Into You in 2009, moviegoers have been plagued with these bad romantic comedies with stellar casts.  Among them, New Year's Eve might just be the worst.  Sadly, the trailers indicate that there are more of these crappy films on the way.  Garry Marshall's latest effort gets a 0.09% rating.  A few Long Island Ice Teas might just get you through this one.