Rating: 1 star out of 5
In the grand tradition of festive movies, which sole aim is to throw a couple of well-known stars with woeful has-beens hoping to re-claim their glory days while strung loosely by a weak narrative thread, New Year's Eve lives up to its expectations.
Granted a miniscule handful of similar anthology-themed films were at least mildly entertaining, namely Love Actually and most parts of He's Just Not That Into You.
Director Gary Marshall however, who incidentally also helmed the universally panned Valentine's Day, has (again) created an embarrassing medley of isolated subplots that barely bother to make tenuous connections. Considering the guy's diminishing talent towards anything resembling a storyline (Pretty Woman does not give him a lifetime pass), why studios continue to allow him to make films remain the ultimate Christmas mystery.
Talking about plots, you'll find it supremely effortless to guess what happens next in New Year's Eve simply by looking at the rather impressive number of people in the cast. Everyone basically plays a version of their pigeon-holed on-screen selves.
Starting with Hillary Swank, being an Oscar-winner and all, who takes the nominal lead in the movie. She's the VP of Times Square Alliance that's in charge of the ball drop which we all know is an uber important event as it'll definitely be the closing scene for the film.
Meanwhile on the other side of New York's cobbled sidewalks, mousy Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer looking dowdy for a change) decides she's had enough of her idiot boss, and offers delivery boy Paul (Zac Efron) a pair of super exclusive tickets to the Ahren Records (her former company) Masquerade Ball on a condition that he helps her fulfill a series of New Year resolutions.
Elsewhere, single-mum Kim's (Sarah Jessica Parker) teenage daughter (Abigail Breslin) would rather spend Christmas with her boyfriend (Jake T.Austin) which makes Kim sad. Not to worry, as a little misunderstanding involving stolen kisses brings the pair closer in the end.
Sprinkling more romantic spice into the mix is Ahren Record's rock music poster man Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi leading the has-been pack), scheduled for a gig during the Masquerade Ball. He runs into an old girlfriend (Katherine Heigl doing exactly the same thing she's been doing for her last 300 films) who's catering for the event and despite a rocky reconciliation, old sparks are ignited.
In a nearby hospital, Halle Berry and Alyssa Milano are both looking fine in their nurse's outfits, but they've also been tasked with the grim job of attending to a man (Robert DeNiro) in the final stages of cancer. His dying wish is, of course, to see the ball drop one last time.
Concurrently, Griffin (Seth Meyers) and Tess (Jessica Biel) are about to become parents for the very first time. The hospital is offering a bonus to the family with the first child of the New Year, and the young couple already has their eye on the prize. That's not before they find out that James (Til Schweiger) and Grace (Sarah Paulson) are vying for the same pool of money too, which we later discover is more important to them due to their financial circumstances.
Then there's Paul's roomie, fleshed out by Ashton Kutcher looking more disheveled with every douchebag role he accepts, who hooks up with Lea Michele's character – an aspiring back-up singer for Jensen.
And Sophia Vergara as a Sous chef whose addition serves nothing essential except to fluff up an already burgeoning list of stars including Joey McIntyre, Larry Miller, Cary Elwes etc.
This also means that everyone gets less than 5 minutes of screen time, making it impossible for the actors to build any semblance of chemistry to save the film even if they possessed oodles of Academy Award winning talent.
Whatever the case, we're pretty sure you saw all this coming the moment the opening credits came on so Hallelujah, now anyone can be a screenwriter/director!
At the end of the day, New Year's Eve is like a movie based on a magazine that consists of 80% ad space. It's a film devoid of value, an empty piece of commerce tied to a holiday.
Though understandably, those who decide to watch it anyway probably aren't looking for anything more than a dozen attractive faces and a few hours of Hallmark sentiments.