"This magazine is much better than the script for this movie."
0.5 stars (out of four)
Perhaps at some point in the future, a great movie will feature the line, “Ladies, may the best va-jay-jay win!”
That line, spoken about two pregnant women (Jessica Biel, Sarah Paulson) competing to deliver just after midnight Dec. 31 and win $25,000, probably represents all that needs to be said about “New Year’s Eve.”
But why would I stop there?
In a film whose idea of timely humor means referencing “Girls Gone Wild” and Guantanamo Bay and whose storytelling approach boils down to, “Why tackle one story sincerely when you can do a shamelessly superficial take on 12?,” the world bears little resemblance to our own. A major record label is a family business where an executive (Josh Duhamel), tired of threesomes and looking to settle down, gets a laugh out of a Socrates joke at a swanky party; a nearly 50-year-old singer (Jon Bon Jovi), who apparently performs only covers and pouts about the ex-fiancée (Katherine Heigl) he dumped, is considered the hottest thing in the music industry; and a sad woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) quits her job so a courier (Zac Efron) can help her complete patronizing versions of her New Year’s resolutions before the new year even starts. Hey, why go to Bali when you can go to a Brooklyn spa that looks like the “Eat Pray Love” version of Bali?
Many other big celebrities (Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Seth Meyers) co-star alongside Oscar winners (Hilary Swank, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry), but describing every plotline would take longer than anyone spent thinking about the movie itself. Repurposing the more-is-more, so-dumbed-down-even-inanimate-objects-can-understand-it style they drooled out in last year’s “Valentine’s Day,” writer Katherine Fugate and director Garry Marshall clearly just wanted to apply the same mind-numbing hokiness to a holiday that the entire world has no choice but to recognize.
That doesn’t mean “New Year’s Eve” is all-inclusive; the film still laughs at several minority characters’ (Sofia Vergara, Hector Elizondo) misuse of English and suggests that the only relevant New Year’s experiences take place in Times Square. After all, that’s where people test confetti and pause their party to watch a member of the Times Square alliance (Swank) speak so movingly about an electrical problem that she’s told, “You spoke eloquently about the ball getting stuck.” Really.
Just in case you think any shallow, blatantly obvious ideas didn’t make it into the movie, its creators toss in the requisite characters getting trapped in an elevator, an insultingly insincere nod to the military and pre- and post-movie voiceover clarifying the meaning of love and New Year’s Eve—news flash: they are both good things.
Couldn’t there have been an old horny guy and a generically cute kid or something? Wait, both of those are here too, further proving that parties like “New Year’s Eve” are the reason some people prefer to stay home.
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