A common complaint I hear about New Year’s Eve (the holiday, not the movie) is that it’s always a huge let-down. For some reason or another, people build it up in their head to be a magical night of unachievable ideals and then are ultimately disappointed when it turns out to be just a really expensive night at the bar, only with more sequins. Luckily, for anyone who knows anything about movies, the bar for New Year’s Eve (the movie, not the holiday) is so low you could trip over it. So it’s hard to be particularly disappointed by this little innocuous number, especially if you end up sitting the whole way through it. It fits the bill for what you would expect: a little holiday confection that won’t require you to think too hard.
That being said, there were some surprises that made this movie slightly more worthwhile. The standout for me was Robert De Niro’s uncannily intimate storyline of a lonely man on his deathbed on (wait for it…) New Year’s Eve, with no family, friends, or visitors in sight. This thread of the film was so out-of-place it was actually refreshing, and De Niro does a lovely job. Of course, his story ends up tying in nicely to the other threads that seem unconnected until the very end in a simple, if predictable, climax. I might have even shed a tear if this storyline took up more than eight minutes of the film’s total running time.
Okay, I may have shed a tear anyway, but I cry over the Cheerio’s commercial so I’m a bad litmus test for emotion.
I was also a little surprised by the sheer abundance of A-listers. With star-studded movies like this, most of the actors don’t have to actually work with more than one or two of the others, meaning they can work with multiple schedules to cram everyone into the film once the footage hits the editing bay. That being said, I was still surprised by a face that I didn’t see in the trailer, and that’s always fun. I won’t spoil the handful of these pleasant moments by name-dropping, but if you decide to see the movie keep your eyes peeled.
While the overall plot leaned heavily on tried, true, and tired chick flick conventions (seize the day, love the one you’re with, more song lyrics) a few scenes warranted an honest chuckle. Notable were Seth Meyers and Sofia Vergara. Meyers plays the role of a young, expectant father. Bottom line, he’s funny, even if the script and Jessica Biel (his preggers wife) suck. Vergara’s accent, meanwhile, is a character all on its own.
Perhaps the main problem with this style of movie is that, since there are so many small vignettes, you never actually get to develop any kind of solid storyline. Each time you start to develop a rapport with any of the characters, it’s time to switch to storyline B, C, or X, and you won’t see that character again for a good 20 minutes. While the original concept proved charming in the widely-acclaimed Paris, Je T’Aime, it just doesn’t translate to your typical, sloppy Hollywood fare. Much like film critic Mark Kermode opines in his book, what you end up with is pretty dumbed down. Still, the movie didn’t sink any lower than my already bottomed-out expectations, and it was entertaining enough. So, I guess if you’re still in a turkey-coma and just want to sit in the dark for a few hours and look at some pretty people, New Year’s Eve fits the bill nicely.