Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

Drink Away This Film From Your Celebrations Tonight: Toast To Its Quick Disappearance

Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michele in Garry Marshall's romantic comedy "New Year's Eve". 
Warner Brothers


Omar P.L. Moore/        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                                           
Saturday, December 31
, 2011

Camera-ready and made to order like one of Ashton Kutcher's Nikon point-and-shoot camera commercials, Garry Marshall's lazy, plastic "New Year's Eve" is essentially one long cameo of red carpet appearances of some two dozen stars, actors, singers and has-beens, busy preening on camera for the 30 seconds of fame they had a long time ago.  Repetitive and without any discernable or fresh ideas, Mr. Marshall's romantic comedy takes place on December 31, 2011 -- namely today -- but it feels like a film I saw years ago.

What better time than now to review this film, which opened three Fridays ago?  Well, it's most appropriate now because many filmgoers will be too busy celebrating to care much about a long, dreary and predictable festival of sappiness, contrived scenarios and Hallmark card clichés.  "New Year's Eve" is supposed to be a series of anthologies but it feels like a New York City tourism ad, complete with a cameo from New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.  You expect him to say, "come to New York, it's a great place!"  Which, of course, it is.

Michelle Pfeiffer makes a Hollywood big screen appearance after several years away as a lonely woman who quits her Manhattan job to fulfill her dreams, a bucket list of adventures.  She's shepherded into action by Zac Efron, her boy genie, ushering her from location to location to enjoy all of the virgin moments of her life's experience before 2012 comes along.  Josh Duhamel is trying to get from upstate New York to Manhattan just in time for midnight to meet the mystery woman he met a year ago at the same time.  (Smells a little like "Same Time, Next Year", only not as smart a comedy.)  Then there's Mr. Kutcher, the film's bah-humbug, Mr. Killjoy to New Year excitement.  He hates New Year, but Lea Michele will get stuck with this moody man in an elevator and sing until his cold heart melts.

I could go on and on.  I think however, that you get the picture -- especially if you've seen the film.  I won't go into how much Sofia Vergara mocks and over-exaggerates the Latina image to such a degree that it is racist and rather uncomfortable to watch -- make that cringe-worthy to watch -- as bad as Mickey Rooney's infamous portrayal of an Asian man in "Breakfast At Tiffany's", a bitter-sweet movie perfect for this time of year and whose own misadventures in racist stereotype aren't mentioned by many as they laud the film a classic.  George Lopez did the same thing in "Valentine's Day", as did Carlos Mencia in "Our Family Wedding", both 2010 films that set film portrayals of Latinos -- and blacks for that matter -- way back.

Notice that for this review I've deliberately avoided giving out character names, for it is only the faces of stars that the filmmaker wants you to remember.  Had this film been cast with no-namers, it would have been instantly forgettable.  Audiences would have stayed away.  Yet "New Year's Eve" is even more of an embarrassment and disgrace because it has a high-caliber glitterati of stars all of whom have ready-made smiles, or, in the case of Robert De Niro, an on-cue bedridden posture and expression.  "Just let me see get to see the ball drop," he whines.  Dear oh deary me.

Mr. Marshall, who has done so much better with films like "Pretty Woman" and "Runaway Bride", has been deciding lately to celebrate occasions ("Valentine's Day") and now today's exciting (and for quite a few, depressing) night, on the big screen.  It's how he celebrates them that is the biggest issue.  And his latest film could have been just five minutes long -- the blooper reel during the end credits -- funnier than anything that has preceded, includes a shameless plug of "Valentine's Day".  Get your copy not!

With: Every Hollywood star or aspirant you've ever seen on the big screen, including Halle Berry, Common, Sarah Jessica Parker, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Ryan Seacrest, Til Schweiger, Abigail Breslin, Seth Meyers, Hilary Swank, Hector Elizondo, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Jessica Biel and many more.

"New Year's Eve" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association Of America for language including some sexual references.  The film's duration is two hours.

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