The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Send this page to Twitter!  

THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is a great example of Hollywood thinking that if audiences liked something once, they're bound to like it again. (In fairness, that is often true.) Valentine's Day was a big hit a couple years ago, so now we have this virtual clone – a star-studded, Garry Marshall-directed, “Love American Style”-type romantic comedy set around a holiday. It is a pre-fab product through and through. The movie is not good but, in fairness, it could have been worse.

The date is December 31 and a lot of New Yorkers are doing things in preparation for the new year. A mousy secretary (Michelle Pfeiffer) hires a bike messenger (Zac Efron) to help her complete last year's list of resolutions. An expectant couple (Seth Meyers and Jessica Biel) hopes to deliver the “New Year's baby” and win $25,000. A chef (Katherine Heigl) prepares food for a party, while her rock star ex (Jon Bon Jovi) tries to win her back. A holiday-hating hipster (Ashton Kutcher) gets stuck in an elevator with an aspiring singer (Lea Michele). A dying man (Robert DeNiro) fights to stay alive until midnight, with the encouragement of a nurse (Halle Berry). A teenager (Abigail Breslin) wants to kiss her boyfriend during the annual celebration, but must first outwit her overprotective mother (Sarah Jessica Parker). A man (Josh Duhamel) searches for a lost love. The most interesting story involves the woman (Hilary Swank) in charge of managing the Times Square ball drop; when the ball breaks down, she has to find a way to get it repaired in time.

Let's be honest: all these big stars didn't sign on for New Year's Eve because of the material. No, they signed on because it was an easy paycheck. Show up for a couple days' work, you don't have to carry the movie, yadda yadda yadda. Each of the subplots only gets a brief amount of screen time, so the characters' arcs are formulaic and predictable. With such little time devoted to them, there isn't a whole lot of room for the actors to find any sort of depth. They are required merely to hit one note and hold it. Some of them (Pfeiffer, Efron, Meyers, Breslin) at least try to show some spark, while the others more or less phone it in.

As was also the case with Valentine's Day, the basic problem is that everything here is superficial. You can't really establish much drama in short segments, so many of the plot threads revolve around simple issues, such as whether the right people will kiss or get together before the ball drops. Some of the subplots are more diverting than others, but I didn't care much about anything, nor did I feel in any way moved when the various story strands resolved themselves. I didn't laugh, didn't choke up, didn't feel my heart warmed.

What I did do was sit and watch. New Year's Eve is not awful. It's not particularly inspired either. It just kind of sits there, holding your attention without ever really sucking you in the way a good movie will. I suspect the film paid for some sports cars and exotic vacations, maybe even some expensive jewelry. It was doubtlessly a good deal for the stars. For the paying audience, New Year's Eve is a generic, aggressively mediocre viewing experience. It's the cinematic equivalent of a glass of flat champagne.

( out of four)

Blu-Ray Features:

New Year's Eve will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on May 1. A digital copy of the film is also included.

The bonus material begins with an audio commentary from the ever-affable director Gary Marshall. He also provides on-screen commentary for a handful of deleted scenes, none of which offer anything earth-shattering.

"Jon Bon Jovi and Lea Michele Rock New Year's Eve" looks at the song selection of - and recording session for - the tunes sung by the stars. "The Magic of Times Square" has cast members stating the obvious about New Year's Eve (it's a time of new beginnings!), while "New Year's Eve Secrets of the Stars" allows them to share personal memories of notable celebrations. Finally, there's a ten minute gag reel that is intermittently amusing.

New Year's Eve is rated PG-13 for language including some sexual references. The running time is 1 hour and 57 minutes.

Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.