An ac­quain­tance best for­got­ten

New Year’s Eve

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

Star­ring Michelle Pfeif­fer, Zac Efron, Halle Berry, Jon Bon Jovi, Kather­ine Heigl, Ash­ton Kutcher, Jes­sica Biel, Sarah Jes­sica Parker, Abi­gail Bres­lin, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Hi­lary Swank, Seth Mey­ers, Sofia Ver­gara. Screen­play by Kather­ine Fu­gate. Di­rected by Garry Mar­shall. 118 min­utes, rated M (coarse lan­guage). Show­ing at Read­ing Cine­mas Porirua, Light House Pau­ata­hanui. I have spent De­cem­ber 31 in a mud pit as the heav­ens opened on a Pai­hia camp­ground, I have spent it bedrid­den with a bug as my mates hit the town, and have watched the girl I fan­cied kiss an­other dude at mid­night – but my worst New Year’s Eve is eas­ily New Year’s Eve.

Di­rec­tor Garry Mar­shall has spent 20 years try­ing to re­cap­ture the humour and ro­mance that made Pretty Wo­man a smash­ing fairy tale but with di­min­ish­ing re­turns. New Year’s Eve re­peats the for­mula of his Valen­tine’s Day from ear­lier this year – it­self a soul­less, cal­cu­lated stab at Love Ac­tu­ally suc­cess – where a large, vanilla cast en­dure end­less con­trivances and cliches on their way to neatly en­cap­su­lat­ing the true mean­ing of the fes­tiv­ity in ques­tion.

It’s De­cem­ber 31 and rock star Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi, strug­gling to play him­self) is in town to per­form at Times Square and a swanky cor­po­rate func­tion. Cater­ing the lat­ter is his ex (Kather­ine Heigl), whom Jensen walked out on a year ear­lier. One of his backup singers ( Glee’s Lea Michele) gets stuck in the lift with a New Year hater ( Ash­ton Kutcher), whose party- lov­ing flat­mate (Zac Efron) is em­ployed by a meek, mid­dle-aged Michelle Pfeif­fer to as­sist her with her bucket list.

About to kick the prover­bial is Robert De Niro, who is stuck in a hos­pi­tal bed but des­per­ate to see the ball drop at Times Square one last time. Mean­while former Lit­tle Miss Sun­shine Abi­gail Bres­lin is des­per­ate to reach the party to kiss a boy, but her mum (Sarah Jes­sica Parker) won’t let her.

Hi­lary Swank, Josh Duhamel and two hor­ri­ble cou­ples try­ing to score $25,000 by hav­ing the first baby born af­ter mid­night also slot into the story web.

It would seem movies set around cal­en­dar events can ei­ther be cal­cu­lated rom-com pif­fle or an ex­cuse for a nut-job to run amok, gut­ting the rest of the cast – think Hal­loween, April Fools’ Day ( 1986), Silent Night, Deadly Night. Af­ter about 10 min­utes I wished this one had gone the other way.

The trou­ble with New Year’s Eve is, de­spite Mar­shall and writer Kather­ine Fu­gate string­ing to­gether ev­ery tired sce­nario imag­in­able to mine poignancy, there isn’t a sin­cere beat to be had.

The sen­ti­ments of love, hope, new be­gin­nings and for­give­ness ex­pressed by the two-di­men­sional char­ac­ters are the cheap plat­i­tudes you’d find in a $2 greet­ing card, while Mar­shall ap­pears des­per­ate to en­sure New York of­fi­cially re­places Dis­ney­land as the hap­pi­est place on earth – and usurps Hog­warts as the most mag­i­cal. The only true won­ders are how quickly char­ac­ters are able to get from one land­mark to an­other, and that not one char­ac­ter in the movie gets drunk. The Big Ap­ple has rarely tasted so plas­tic.

Per­haps all this plays bet­ter with the Yanks. I mean, Times Square looks like a fun party cen­tral and all, but the way Mar­shall tries to frame the an­nual ball drop, you’d think it was the sec­ond com­ing of Christ de­scend­ing not a gi­ant globe of light.

Bum note: Jon Bon Jovi rocks Times Square in New Year’s Eve. Un­for­tu­nately, the movie has about as much edge or vi­tal­ity as his mu­sic.

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