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Review: New Year's Eve

Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 17:12

 

New Year's Eve

Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron

Directed by Garry Marshall

Rated PG-13

Opens Friday

Grade B

 

Comic book crossovers have always been a big deal – with studios pushing out at least two major films every year. By spreading out a single story among every major comic line in their library, publishers can sell an epic tale, telling readers, "Hey! All these heroes and villains are involved, so it must be important."

 That, in a way, is the hook for "New Year's Eve." Not the script, story or characters – even though the film balances comedy and drama as well as any major film this year. "New Year's Eve" relishes in the thought that they have over two dozen major stars popping up in the film.

Set during the upcoming New Year's Eve, making it the shortest glimpse into the future ever put on film, the movie shows the lives of New Yorkers all connected to the impending ball drop at Times Square. Each storyline is told as an interconnecting vignette – think "Love Actually" – and while some stand stronger than others, the movie will play great with a big audience.

The truth is it's a strong ensemble cast by sheer virtue of the talent involved: Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jon Bon Jovi to name a few. Yes, every character introduction in this movie becomes a winking game of "Hey, look who it is," and by extension "so this must be good." However, director Garry Marshall balances the 20-odd characters as well as possible, no doubt having his skills honed by his similarly-themed "Valentine's Day," also written by screenwriter Katherine Fugate.

The real secret to victory is the pairing of talented, funny actors who obviously loved working together. Robert De Niro and Halle Berry bring in the requisite "heartfelt" moments with great success. Seth Meyers ("Saturday Night Live") and "Valentine's Day" star Jessica Biel play a couple hoping to win the $25,000 prize for the first baby born of the New Year. Biel also proudly earns the f-bomb allotted by the MPAA for a PG-13 movie. The best pairing, however, is Zac Efron of Disney fame alongside Michelle Pfeiffer, who is practically unrecognizable as a shy woman looking to accomplish a tough set of New Year's resolutions.

Not everyone comes out of this okay, though. Chris "Ludacris" Bridges plays a cop with little effect while Hilary Swank covers her bases well enough, but not to carry the entire film. Meanwhile, Ashton Kutcher and "Glee" megastar Lea Michele become stuck in an elevator – hands down the most clichéd situational comedy set-up of all time. However, these are exceptions to an otherwise fantastic cast. As always, it's good to see Bon Jovi acting.

Granted, some of this movie is going to come off as too sweet; themes of love, hope, family values, cheesy lines and not one, but two musical numbers courtesy of Bon Jovi and Michele. It's just the nature of the film, but the screenplay is surprisingly tight. It moves at a brisk pace, will surprise the crowd in some scenes and justifiably earn some sniffles.

In spite of these "everyone is connected to everyone"-style comedies that have become their own subgenre, "New Year's Eve" is well-done and entertaining. It may very well be the biggest crossover of all time, packed with familiar faces in every scene. Though hopefully there won't be another holiday-themed romantic comedy – Labor Day, or something like that.

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