Thursday, December 08, 2011

NEW YEAR'S EVE - New Year, Old Stories

NEW YEAR'S EVE (romantic comedy)
Cast: Lea Michele, Michele Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Hector Elizondo, Katherine Heigl and Hilary Swank
Director: Garry Marshall
Screenplay: Katherine Fugate
Time: 115 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

SECOND CHANCE: Jon Bon Jovi and Katherine Heigl

PREAMBLE: After Valentine's Day, Garry Marshall comes out with another holiday-themed ensemble flick centred around the traditional Ball Drop at Manhattan's Times Square, NYC. For me, the big deal is Times Square - a nostalgia factor for my wife and me as we visited the area a couple of times last year. Crowded with tourists and revellers almost every night of the year, the celebratory mood there can be infectious and electrifying fun.

The movie, however, is anything but infectious or electrifying. Alas, the huge starry cast only offer the audience some "Hey, look at what's-its-name up there" moments and a chance to gawk at their idols. Otherwise, it is a rather predictable and bland outing.

Hero electrician: Hector Elizondo and Hilary Swank

SYNOPSIS: Claire Morgan (Hilary Swank) is in charge of the Ball Drop festivities on New Year's Eve but a technical glitch occurs, allowing us to take a look at other people connected with the celebrations at Times Square and elsewhere. Like Bon Jovi playing a rocker who wants to make up with party chef Laura (Katherine Heigl); a messenger (Zac Efron) taking his 'client' (Michele Pfeiffer) around to fulfil her New Year resolutions; a young grouch (Ashton Kutcher) trapped in a roomy elevator with a cheery back-up singer (Lea Michele); a nurse (Halle Berry) spending time with her cancer patient (De Niro); a teenager (Abigail Breslin) sneaking out to the festivities being followed by her mom (Sarah Jessica Parker), etc, etc.

HITS & MISSES: Most of the romance vignettes (some of which involve love interest being rekindled after a year's lapse) are pretty implausible, especially the stuck-in-elevator caper. The Pfeiffer-Efron subplot is the most cringe-worthy as it suggests not only a May-October romance but also hints of despair and suicide. Another weird entre is the post-midnight rendezvous between Josh Duhamel's Sam and a mystery woman. The 'surprises' that work are those involving Halle Berry's Nurse Aimee (above) who has to attend an important 'date', and Claire's rendezvous on a certain roof-top.

The comical subplots, one of which has two expecting couples (Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers, Sarah Paulson and Til Schweiger) competing with each other to win a US$25,000 prize for the new year baby born at the hospital, fare a little better. Other plot threads, like Hector Elizondo's 'hero electrician who saves the day' role seems to have been written just for him - and he hams it up 'real good'.

The message of the film in welcoming 2012 is the usual list of hope renewal, forgiveness and family closeness - but the best laugh can only be found in the end credits - when Carla Gugino pulls out a DVD of Valentine's Day from between Jessica Beil's thighs, instead of a wailing newborn. By the way, that film is almost two years old!

THE LOWDOWN: New year, old stories.


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