Don’t let the central theme of New Year’s Eve (2011) (the new rom-com from director / producer Garry Marshall, screenwriter Katherine Fugate and producers Mike Karz and Wayne Rice – the quartet who gave us the smash hit Valentine’s Day (2010)), put you off. For this film, which features a performance by the perennial rock star Jon Bon Jovi at New York’s Times Square New Year’s Eve party at its main core, is a prime example of what Hollywood does best – pure, unapologetic, sentimentality.
The story follows a group of individuals (played by amongst others, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Abigail Breslin, Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyer, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank and Sofia Vergara) as their lives interconnect culminating in the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve party.
I was a initially skeptical when I read the premise of New Year’s Eve. How would it work? Would it suffer from sensory overload (too many ‘A‘ listers squeezed into the space of one hundred and twenty minutes all vying for the prime spot)? Would it all prove too much of a good thing? Any such fears soon dissipated however, as each character’s experiences played out in the form of self contained vignettes within the overriding arc, independent of yet at the same time dependent on the others.
Naturally some of the situations stand out, particularly the one featuring Berry as a cancer nurse caring for De Niro’s patient who sees out his life along with the old year (I defy anyone not to be touched by this story concerning a blight which virtually everyone has had experience of to some degree). Other spot on performances include Parker playing, well, Parker, complete with an ending which could have been written for Sex and the City (you’ll know what I mean when you see it), and Kutcher as a ‘cool dude‘ comic book artist named ‘Randy’ (which seems fitting in the light of what we now know about his private life). One person however rises above the rest. Pfeiffer as Ingrid, the downtrodden PA to a music company boss (an uncredited yet memorable turn from John Lithgow) who decides she’s had enough and, with the help of a bike messenger called Paul (Efron), finds all her dreams come true within one hectic day, lights up the screen in the way only a true ‘star‘ can. The moment she appears she outshines all those around her proving, if proof were needed, why she is a true cinematic legend.
The only downside (apart from some clever product placement by Warner Brothers in the final scene – watch out for a very large poster of Robert Downey Jr as ‘Sherlock Holmes’ in Times Square) is that each of the stories could warrant a film of its own, resulting in some feeling underdeveloped – particularly the personal one involving Berry’s Nurse Aimee. That said it’s clear, with the film’s time constraint and number of interconnecting stories, some would inevitably take precedence. In the end though this is just nitpicking, and the way the characters crisscross each others paths whilst racing around Manhattan in the lead up to midnight, is a testament to Fugate’s imagination and skill as a writer of gently stirring and emotional humor.
A bit like its sister movie Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve has clearly been made to cash in on a time of the year where love and being with those special to you takes on extra significance – hence the probable reason why they waited until Christmas to release the DVD, a year after it came out in the cinema. I debated as to whether I’d say this as I know it’s not the thing (especially for a guy) to say that you like rom-coms. But who cares, I admit (though you’ve likely already worked it out) that I do and New Year’s Eve only strengthens my belief that there’s a little bit in all of us that does!
DVD/BD Release Date: 3 December 2012 (UK)
Directed By: Garry Marshall
Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel , Ashton Kutcher, Zac Efron, Michelle Pfeiffer
Buy New Year’sEve:Blu-ray (+ UV Copy) / DVD (+ UV Copy)