Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Apr 16th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Out with the new

film nyemoveHarmless, but predictable 'New Year's Eve' sings same old song 


Picture this: Times Square, New York City, New Year's Eve. Crowds have been amassing all day to see the giant glitter ball hoisted up to the top of its pole, to drop down again at the stroke of midnight. But as the festivities begin, and the ball starts to go up—oh no!—it gets stuck halfway up the pole. Will it get to the top in time? Can the new year begin if the ball doesn't drop? These are among the many burning questions posed in the ensemble romantic comedy, New Year's Eve, but audiences may be asking themselves a different question: what are a bunch of nice Oscar winners (and nominees) doing in a movie like this? 

The short answer is: collecting a paycheck. The ensemble romantic comedy Valentine's Day was a big enough hit back in 2010 that distributor Warner Brothers reunited director Garry Marshall and screenwriter Katherine Fugate for this retread. It's not a sequel, there are no characters in common between the two movies, it's just the same formula transplanted from L.A. to New York, in which a vaguely interconnected group of folks try to realize their holiday expectations. Formulaic, too, is the quality of the storytelling. Well-meaning and eager to please, New Year's Day amounts to little more than a collection of sitcom gags, predictable romance, and inspirational speeches about love, hope, and second chances.

Nevertheless, a jaw-dropping array of talent and/or Hollywood A-listers pop up in the mix. Hilary Swank starts the ball rolling, literally, as Claire, the Times Square PR director responsible for getting the glitter ball up and running on the big night. Caterer Laura (Katherine Heigl) arrives in the kitchen of a downtown hotel to prep for a swanky record company party she's throwing that night. But her mission is complicated by her history with the party's star musical attraction, a rocker called Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) who has all the other women swooning, particularly Laura's hot-blooded Latina assistant (Sofia Vergara, of Modern Family). 

Paul (Zac Efron), a frisky young courier on a motorbike, teams up for the day with uptight executive secretary, Ingrid (a character so repressed, you might not even recognize Michelle Pfeiffer in a brunette wig), who promises him tickets to the swanky party if he'll help her realize all the dreams on her wish-list in one day. (Actually, his solutions to seemingly impossible wishes, like "visit Bali" or "a trip around the world," are the cleverest bits in the film.) Meanwhile, his slacker roommate, Randy (Ashton Kutcher) who hates New Year's Eve, is in the process of throwing out all the tinsel decorations when he gets stuck in the elevator with new neighbor, Elise (Lea Michele, from Glee), an aspiring singer on her way to a gig singing back-up for Jensen at the party.

Single mom Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker), a costumer for the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, won't let her 15-year-old daughter, Hailey (Abigail Breslin) go down to Times Square with a bunch of her friends—even though Hailey is expecting her first kiss. Playboy and record company heir Sam (Josh Duhamel) has to hitchhike in from Connecticut with a suburban family to keep an important midnight date. And empathetic hospital nurse, Aimee (Halle Berry) sits up all evening with crusty, dying patient, Stan (Robert De Niro).

These vignettes are brought off with varying degrees of success. Probably the lamest subplot involves two expectant couples (Jessica Biel and Seth Myers, and Til Schweiger and Sarah Paulson) going to extreme levels of competitive stupidity to induce labor in order to produce the first baby born in the new year and collect a $25,000 prize. (Although Carla Gugino is pretty funny as the ladies' touch-feely, yet no-nonsense obstetrician.)

film newyearseveDe Niro and Berry contribute a heartwarming pathos that their underwritten characters (and the movie) don't deserve. Parker gets to wear some fabulous shoes, Lea Michelle sings "Auld Lang Syne" as a power ballad, and everything plays out pretty much as you expect. Considerable goodwill is generated in the funny outtakes reel during the closing credits, but not quite enough to redeem this harmless, but underwhelming holiday affair.

 

NEW YEAR'S EVE
★★(out of four)

Watch film trailer >>>

With Hilary Swank, Sarah Jessica Parker, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert De Niro. Written by Katherine Fugate. Directed by Garry Marshall. A Warner Bros release. Rated PG-13. 118 minutes.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.

 

Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Yan Flower

Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.