Coming off of the success of 2010's Valentine's Day
, Director Gary Marshall is trying his hand with the same exact formula on New Year's Eve. The film New Year's Eve
has so many parts it is hard to pinpoint exactly what the film is about. It is also obviously missing a great deal of plot because the entire movie lacks structure or a clear sense of story development. You walk away wondering how much footage was left on the cutting room floor with this one, and imagining how terrible it must have been to be cut from the end product. New Year's Eve
is an ensemble picture, and with that each piece of the ensemble makes up the whole film individually with little overlap occurring between characters.
In lieu of summarizing each individual story line in-depth here is a brief overview of who is interacting with who, and what the general gist of their part in the story is (?? = spoiler alert to expose twist):
- 1. Randy (Ashton Kutcher) and Elise (Lea Michele) - Randy hates New Year's Eve, and Elise is a back-up singer who will be performing at Times Square for the ball drop. Elise and Randy are neighbors, they get stuck in an elevator all day, and as such romance should bloom between them.
- 2. Laura (Katherine Heigl) and Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) - They were formerly engaged until he walked out on her for no reason. Jensen is now trying to win her back while she is trying to manage her career-making night as a caterer at the biggest party in town.
- 3. Sam (Josh Duhamel) and ?? - Last year womanizer Sam met a woman on New Year's whom he was smitten. She left him a note to meet on New Year's if he still felt the same way one year later. Will Sam meet her? And who is she?
- 4. Kate (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Hailey (Abigail Breslin) and Seth (Jake Austin) - Kate plans on spending a nice quiet evening at home with her teenage daughter Hailey after giving up her own New Year's plans. Hailey has other ideas and wants to go to Times Square with her friends so she can kiss Seth at midnight. Mother/Daughter angst ensues as does teenage boy drama.
- 5. Nurse Aimee (Halle Berry) and Harry (Robert De Niro) and ?? and ?? - Harry is near-death and all he wants to do on his final New Year's is go up to the roof and see the ball drop one last time. Nurse Aimee has her own plans for the night after taking care of Harry, and they involve a very sexy dress.
- 6. Claire (Hilary Swank) and ?? - Claire has a mysterious meeting at 12am with a man whom she does not like to talk about. Who is this mystery man, and why did she tell her co-worker Brendan (Ludacris) about him?
- 7. Tess (Jessica Biel) and Griffin (Seth Meyers) - Tess and Griffin are on a mission to have their baby by midnight so they can win the hospital's prize of $25,000 dollars.
- 8. Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Paul (Zac Efron) - Ingrid has decided to make the most of her New Year's and accomplish all of her bucket list in one day; Paul is the hired messenger who is going to help her do it and in return gain access to the biggest party of the night.
Did I miss any story lines? I hope not because as you can see there are plenty to keep one occupied. There are other characters of course, and the stories do overlap for some characters, but the above is generally what a viewer is dealing with during New Year's Eve
. The trouble is that only one of the story lines is worth watching, and it is one of the less-focused upon--much to a viewer's dismay. New Year's Eve
is a jumbled mess of a bunch of people trying to deal with their issues, fulfill some grandiose dream before the ball drops, or take a chance on living because they can't seem to do that the other 364 days of the year. Everything revolves around the moment the ball drops, and where everyone will be and what they will be doing at that exact moment. The problem is no one cares about anyone in New Year's Eve
; the film rushes through it all, expecting you to engage without necessitating the engagement. The end product is merely a thrown-together mash-up of different stories without any depth, heart, or real romance behind them. The ball certainly drops on New Year's Eve
, pun intended.
In order for character's to develop chemistry on screen they have to appear on-screen together for a long enough period of time, or be lucky enough to have instant chemistry--a very rare occurrence. New Year's Eve has a great deal of characters, and quite a few story lines all going on at once. Pack all of these characters and their respective stories into less than two hours and you are bound to suffer in the chemistry department. Such is the case with New Year's Eve. Every coupling is forced because it has to be forced given the time constraints on the individual stories. As each pairing has serious issues there are two that stand out as the worst ones, and one that is surprisingly good.
The instant romance that should have been generated between Ashton Kutcher's Randy and Lea Michele's Elise during their elevator encounter can be summed up in one poorly chosen edit on behalf of editor Michael Tronick. Near the end of their scenario Randy convinces Elise to sing, something she is not akin to doing on her own. She breaks into song in the elevator while an enamored Randy looks on--or does he? Editor Tronick should have cut away during Elise's song because you can clearly see Randy in the background sitting on the bench looking dreadfully bored and staring at his phone (praying for reception, perhaps?). So much for the romance between Elise and Randy, it is not like they had any chemistry going before this point anyways.
The lack of chemistry also plagues the most centered upon couple in the film--and one that is actually seen together on screen, something rare in New Year's Eve until the final ten minutes or so. Katherine Heigl's Laura and Jon Bon Jovi's rockstar Jensen were engaged last New Year's Eve, until he left. Here we have the tried and true couple of a romantic comedy, the exes who both dream of getting back together if they could only forgive, forget, and mature. Well, for Laura and Jensen they should forget they ever met one another and do the audience a favor and quit pretending there is a semblance of comfortableness between them or familiarity. Laura slaps Jensen twice during the film and each time is fantastic because it is the only time a glimmer of real emotion is portrayed between the two. It is also the only part between them that is entertaining. As the backbone couple of the film the casting choice for Laura and Jensen is seriously flawed, and even the over-sexed, slightly funny Sofia Vergara's Ava's constant chatter to/from them cannot save the scenes in which they appear.
There is one coupling in the film that actually does work, that of Jessica Biel's Tess and Seth Meyer's Griffin. Their "thing" is that they are about to have a baby any day now; when they learn they will win $25,000 if they are the first parent's to deliver on New Year's Eve the competition revs up for them. This competition is bred from the other couple who are vying for the money as well, Grace (Sarah Paulson) and James (Til Schweiger). What could have been a peaceful New Year's at home before the baby arrives turns into foolish attempt after another to induce labor, like eating anchovies. Their story line may not be the freshest, or full of all that much sentiment, but it is cute and funny. You begin to yearn to see more of Tess, Griffin, Grace and James on screen while watching the other story lines because their's is simply the most enjoyable, plausible, and the start of what could be a romantic comedy all on it's own. One cannot help but think how great New Year's Eve could have been if it was about a bunch of couple's trying to give birth on New Year's--if that sounds like a stupid idea for a movie then you can imagine how idiotic the actual New Year's Eve must be to watch.