New Year’s Eve.
Let me begin with a metaphor. If you’re in Times Square for New Year’s, and if the ball never drops or maybe it malfunctions… you’re still going to have a pretty good New Year’s. You’ll buy some souvenirs, you’ll drink a lot, you’ll do a lot of things you wouldn’t do any other New Year’s eve. Well, this movie is kind of like that. You know what is supposed to happen and you’re excited for it to happen but it never really happens. But even though there are some major (and unforgivable) mistakes made, you still manage a few laughs and a few smiles.
We need to get this out of the way first. This movie is pretty much a clone of Valentine’s Day. I loved Valentine’s Day, even though the general public and critics alike gave it a 18% on RottenTomatoes.com. When I saw that spiritual successor New Year’s Eve got a whopping 6%, I thought “Maybe I just have different taste than the general public…”
I was wrong. This movie, unlike other ensemble rom-coms such as Valentine’s Day and even Love Actually… failed on so many levels. Even though there are some incredible names, it fails to be a cohesive story. The sum is not equal to its parts. Maybe it’s because some of the ingredients are way off the mark and kind of ruin the whole thing. Let’s dive in.
You should never be annoyed by characters in a movie. I call it Phantom Menace syndrome. This movie had the dynamic duo of Sophia Vergara and Russell Peters. I hated them both, so much. And even Ashton Kutcher, who I thought held Valentine’s Day together, was downright annoying for the first half of this film. A lot of actors went way over the top and took me completely out of the film.
With actors like Robert DeNiro, Halle Berry, and Hilary Swank, I expected more. But the film in general flopped. It was unengaging, absolutely unfunny, and almost a chore to get through.
But like I opened with… even a bad NYE in Times Square is memorable.
Director Garry Marshall is a cheater. In Valentine’s Day, there were legitimate twists. The culmination of the film brought the characters together in a way that was creative, touching, and enjoyable. In New Year’s Eve, he thought more was better, so there are way too many actors and their stories are half-heartedly connected. At one point, there was a “Surprise, they’re brother and sister!” moment that had me cringe. It was unnecessary and served no purpose. No spoiler warning because, again, it was unnecessary and won’t ruin anything.
I did cry, let me just say that. But I’m a sucker. I cry more in movies than I do in real life (is that normal though?). Cheater Garry Marshall knows exactly what will make people cry and he doesn’t hesitate to throw these moments in, capping the movie off with a slew of emotional twists that we not only predicted but we couldn’t avoid. I hated the movie, but the sheer magnitude of emotion in the final scenes finally wore me down.
Let me talk for a moment about predictability. In the opening moments, as we are introduced to each character, there is a very blatant vision of them that you know will be resolved. “I am supposed to meet someone at midnight.” “I never found out that mystery girl’s name.” “I hope tonight goes well, though I suspect there will tribulations but an ultimately satisfying conclusion.” The foreshadowing is over the top and extremely predictable, taking away much of the fun.
Garry Marshall also has an M. Night Shyamalan vibe going on in this film. But not a Sixth Sense feeling, more like a The Happening feeling. We know what formula he’s going to follow and we know that he’s going to try to make us tear up with some unexpected twist. So the whole movie, we’re quietly trying to predict how these characters will cross paths. And when they do… there is zero excitement because we already guessed it. This is a carbon copy of Valentine’s Day but the contrast is turned up too high so it’s a poor quality and barely readable version. And even though half the cast of Valentine’s Day returned for a second outing with Marshall, it still lacked the chemistry of the last holiday film.
This movie took all your favorite ingredients and mixed them together. Chocolate, potatoes, pancakes, syrup, carrots, yams, soda, cherries, prime rib, chicken, cupcakes, rice… And somehow it tasted horrible. Who would have guessed? It’s all about chemistry, but Garry Marshall got overzealous, added too many ingredients that didn’t work together, and misread the recipe.
Don’t see this. I usually like films like this but this film was completely off the mark.