out of Five
Running time: 118
Disappointing, cynically contrived and desperately unfunny ensemble romcom that falls painfully flat thanks to dull characters, an irritating script and some deeply misguided mawkish sentimentality that's unintentionally the funniest thing in the film.
What's it all about?
Director Garry Marshall (Valentine's Day) and screenwriter Katherine Fugate continue their unashamed rip-off of the Love, Actually concept with this ensemble romcom that's once again set around the titular day, only this time it takes place in New York. This time round Ashton Kutcher (returning as an actor but not the same character) plays New Year's Eve-hating illustrator Randy, who gets stuck in a lift with new neighbour Elise (Glee's Lea Michele) as she's on her way to a huge party catered by Laura (Katherine Heigl), whose rock star ex Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) is the headline act.
Other characters include: Jessica Biel (also returning) and Seth Meyers as a pregnant couple trying to win a hospital prize by being the first people to give birth after midnight; Michelle Pfeiffer as a mousey office worker who offers cocky courier (Zac Efron) tickets to the party if he'll help her complete her Things I've Never Done list; Abigail Breslin as a love-struck teenager wanting to sneak away from her mother (Sarah Jessica Parker) to attend a party; Josh Duhamel as a stranded businessman trying to make a midnight rendezvous with a mysterious girl he met a year ago; Hilary Swank as the organiser of the Times Square “ball drop” shenanigans; and last but by no means least, Halle Berry as a nurse looking after a dying cancer patient (Robert De Niro) whose last wish is to see the ball drop from the hospital roof.
As with Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve is cynically contrived and achingly predictable from start to finish – for that matter, the film's trailer gives away at least four of the plot resolutions. Similarly, the drawback of the huge all-star cast is that there's no time for anything approaching character development, so the various plots come across as a collection of painfully thin, emotionally empty romantic clichés.
The script is utterly dreadful, cramming in unbelievable characters (everyone in the pregnancy plot) and embarrassing stereotypes (Sofia Vergara as Laura's “fiery” Spanish assistant) while ladling on some hideously mawkish sentimentality (DeNiro's plot is so bad on every level that it provokes unintentional laughter).
To make matters worse, there's some shockingly bad product placement all through the film, culminating in a shot of a giant poster for the Sherlock Holmes sequel being held on screen for several moments at the end.
New Year’s Eve is a painfully contrived, poorly written ensemble romcom that's utterly devoid of both romance and comedy. Just awful. Please avoid.
New Year's Eve (12A)