by Ryan Hill
It started with the ensemble romantic comedy “He’s Just Not That Into You.” A big hit for New Line Cinema, they decided to keep the ball rolling with last year’s “Valentine’s Day,” another ensemble rom-com that turned out to be a hit despite scathing reviews. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, the studio is back with “New Year’s Eve,” by far the most atrocious of the three films.
“New Year’s Eve” stars some of the worst offenders of the rom-com genre over the last few years, including Katherine Heigl, Sarah Jessica Parker, Josh Duhamel and Ashton Kutcher. All the film needs is Kate Hudson and Kristen Bell and there would be a who’s who of actors who have starred in the worst rom-coms of the last five years.
Following the blueprint that made “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Valentine’s Day” hits, “New Year’s Eve” follows multiple storylines, some of which don’t even connect, as New York City leads up to the new year and the dropping of the ball in Times Square. Storylines include a man whose dying wish is to see the ball drop, a rock star who wants to reconcile with his ex, a New Year’s Eve hater stuck in an elevator with someone who loves the holiday and a bike messenger who helps a lonely woman complete her list of New Year’s resolutions.
It sounds sweet, but the paper-thin script by “Valentine’s Day” scribe Katherine Fugate is a buffet of bad jokes and one-note characters. Add to that the lazy direction of Garry Marshall, and “New Year’s Eve” makes bad rom-coms such as “When in Rome” look like “When Harry Met Sally.” Every character is so shallow they’re not even really characters; they’re nothing more than plot devices for each storyline.
The atrocities don’t end there for “New Year’s Eve.” Anyone who’s seen “The Muppets” knows that some exterior shots have an ad for “Cars 2” in it. This wasn’t digitally inserted – Disney owns the theater where they filmed, and that was the ad on top of the theater at the time. In “New Year’s Eve,” however, every time there’s a scene at Times Square, a digitally-inserted image of Robert Downey Jr.’s face on a billboard promoting “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (out in theaters Dec. 16) is not far behind. The product placement is so blatant it would make even Michael Bay proud.
It’s a shame that rom-coms have fallen so far that trash like “New Year’s Eve” continues to be produced by studios. There are still some good ones that get produced, like this summer’s “Crazy Stupid Love,” but many films in the genre are as shallow and vapid as “New Year’s Eve” that those saying the rom-com is dead may actually be right on the money.
Grade: 1 out of 4
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language including some sexual references
Cast: Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Common, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Cary Elwes, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Ludacris, Joey McIntyre, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Alyssa Milano, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sarah Paulson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Sophia Vergara
Studio: New Line Cinema