Movie Review: NEW YEAR’S EVE directed by Garry Marshall

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by Kevin Bowen on December 9, 2011

in Film


I’m allowed one disastrous recommendation per year, right? And here it is already December, and I don’t think I’ve used it yet. So just like those dental insurance benefits that you’re eager to max out before the calendar changes …. consider yourself warned.

So who says you can’t make the sequel better? Admittedly in the case of New Year’s Eve, it’s not following in the footsteps of The Godfather.  Its predecessor is the cinematic nautical disaster/inexplicable holiday hit Valentine’s Day.  The main accomplishment of that dark chocolate meltdown was director Gary Marshall’s ability to get a sorority house-size cast of female stars together without a double-dutch contest over contracts.

New Year’s Eve – movie - directed by Garry Marshall – film review by Kevin BowenSo yes, every rotten thing that you’ve read about New Year’s Eve is probably true. But even if Valentine’s Day stunk, I still sort of dug New Year’s Eve, enough to snag a very light recommendation.

The lesson of these gatherings of stars – they don’t make them like they used to. It’s been interesting and surprising how much better the older stars have acquitted themselves. In the first gathering, Julia Roberts turned in the only moment of star-power warmth (a hug of a child), swatting away the young wannabes like a bee batch of imitators.

New Year’s Eve – movie - directed by Garry Marshall – film review by Kevin BowenMichelle Pfeiffer gets her turn and proves it wasn’t a fluke. She’s a repressed secretary, oh so Catwoman-like, who ropes a young courier (Zac Efron) into helping her complete a list of New Year’s resolutions in one day. The appealing cross-generational chemistry probably would be better served in more creative movies, but you take what you can get. New Year’s Eve might have been better sticking around these two from start to finish.

New Year’s Eve – movie - directed by Garry Marshall – film review by Kevin BowenThe rest is spotty, like a giant episode of The Love Boat with not much boat and way too much love. It’s an experience watching it next to two tipsy women delighting in pointing out every sappy cliché, as if it were some test of intellect. I did generally enjoy the thread about two pregnant women (Jessica Biel and Sarah Paulson) competing to win a hospital’s New Year’s baby prizes. On the other end, the Jon Bon Jovi-Katherine Heigl match-up is about as soulful as it sounds. Undeniably, you have to make daffy allowances to enjoy New Year’s Eve. For the most part, it beat down my resistance.

So why do I like this obvious piece of celebrity-worshipping gook? For the reasons stated previously. And in a season when New York is being portrayed as an alienating live-action sex-tape (Shame) and as the sufferer of a neverending wound (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), it’s nice to have a New York that people aren’t trying to blow up, for once. In a story of unlikely fantasies, New Year’s Eve makes New York look fun again.

New Year’s Eve
rated PG-13
now playing nationwide

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