Review: New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve may have one of the strongest casts of 2011, but is without question one of the most shallow, schmaltzy, ad-driven pieces of cinema in recent years.  I like Gary Marshall, as both an actor and director (his two minute cameo in Hocus Pocus is one of my top guilty pleasure cinema moments) - he's clearly well respected among the Hollywood community with his ability to draw in a cast of this caliber, or maybe he just writes some big cheques.  Marshall's film is in a similar vein to his earlier Valentine's Day - however, this time we seen an ensemble of rich, sexy New Yorkers on New Year's Eve and their various ridiculous problems. Remember that woman that got her face ripped off by a chimp - that self-centred cow thinks she has problems? Well Ashton Kutcher gets stuck in a lift for a few hours. Yeah chimp woman, I bet you feel selfish now, Ashton has real problems...

These banal issues were just one of my issues with the film. Marshall also brings out every cheap trick he can find in the schmoozy sentimental drama box - we've got a man dying with cancer and soldiers fighting in Iraq, brought in for some forced emotional reaction. There's also this ridiculous Hollywood notion that "love" makes everything alright - the amount of characters searching for love from Jon Bon Jovi's rockstar character to Josh Duhamel roaming the streets of New York for it. These privileged characters act like they have the most horrific lives, yet spend the vast majority of the film whining about love. We do not genuinely feel any sort of sentimentality or emotional connection to these characters - but we're told to with New Year's Eve's in your face schmooziesness, it's like being repeatedly smacked in the face with a Hallmark 'I Love You' teddybear to the point of bleeding. If that doesn't appeal to you, New Year's Eve showcases several other products that you may like, featuring a crushing amount of product placement from the likes of Nivea, Disaronno, Apple, Pepsi and Kodak.

The sheer star power of the cast astounds: Hilary Swank is unbearable as the executive planning the city's countdown, equally so is Sarah Jessica Parker's clingy mother character (no wonder her daughter wants to run away) and Lea Michelle belting her lungs out in a lift generally sums up the horror of the film. Hungry for more? There's also Ashton Kutcher bitching about how much he hates New Year in his pajamas, a cocky Zac Efron desperate to go to the hottest party and Abigail Breslin whining about not being able to make out with a boy in her history class. Sigh.

I'll admit, vague moments of interest appeared from the Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer's segments, as well as moments involving Robert De Niro and Halle Berry's characters. However, this interest was more so because I enjoy watching each of these respective actors, and not through any engaging dramatic moments provided by the film.

New Year's Eve is the filmic equivalent of being straddled by a giant Hallmark teddybear whilst he forces you to buy products from the film's sponsors. The focus on the pathetic problems of several attractive, wealthy and spoilt New Yorkers leads to a failure to connect with a real audience and a general resentment at the forced sentimentality of it all. It's more fun to focus on each of the actors and wonder how much they've been paid - first guess, John Lithgow - $10k?

Rating: 1/5
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