New Years Eve Movie Review
There aren’t enough synonyms for “trite” in the English language to allow me to review this movie.
Actually, I kind of like to think of this movie as an experiment in alternative script writing methods that went horribly wrong and, like all bad science experiments is destined to rise up and destroy us all. You see, most bad movies take a crappy story idea and run it into the ground. What the writer of this bomb did (Katherine Fugate-Valentine’s Day, Room in Rome, the Prince and Me (grammar is optional in movie title writing, really)) was take ten bad stories, interweave them into a tapestry of horribleness, and then drape it all over the screen like a death shroud. The funny thing is each story in turn actually magnifies the bland horribleness of the previous one in an exponential manner, so that by the time you get to the 10th sub story you get horrible to the ninth degree.
The whole story chain is weird. The system is a blatant vehicle to cram as many celebrities into one bad movie as possible. The laundry list is endless. Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert DeNiro, Zac Effron, Halle Barry, Alyssa Milano, Jessica Biel, Katherine Heigl, Seth Meyers, Ashton Kutcher, Jon Bon Jovi(?), and Sarah Jessica Parker to name a few. In my mind’s eye I see this movie as the “rock soup” approach to film making. Here’s how I think it works. They get the first star, say Sarah Jessica Parker for example. They write a crappy little drama about her and her daughter. Then they approach the next on the list and say “Hey, we’ve got Sarah Jessica Parker”. The next celebrity joins in and so they write a crappy drama for him or her. Rinse and repeat, and at the end you have a crappy pot of soup made only with a rock!
Of course, with ten different stories in 118 minutes (was it really that long? Felt more like four hours) none of the characters get to in any way develop, or give us any reason to connect with any of them, or for that matter in any way give a crap about anything that happens on the screen. The crappyness of the script might have shot right past the thinking part of each of the actors brains, but it obviously lodged deep into the brain stem and and subconsciously inspired them each to phone in their performances. The acting felt so much like a first or second rehearsal I kept looking to see if the stars actually had scripts in their hands they were reading from. It looks like another draw for each of these people is the fact that they could probably film their respective parts in about a week.
The strange thing (and this is in no way an endorsement or encouragement of this movie) is if you are forced to watch this movie you actually get a little interested in the individual stories, if only to see which of them is going to end the most horribly (the Sarah Jessica Parker one IMO). It’s like watching a leper marathon; you know it is going to be bad to watch and terrible things are going to happen, but you really can’t help but watch if only to see which participant has the most body parts fall off.
One last thing on the multiple story chains is I didn’t realize they had the hydra-like ability to spawn other story chains. You finally get one of them concluded and somehow another one spontaneously germinates. I’d say it grinds, but this whole movie was such a grind that by the time I got to that part most of my gears were stripped.
Anyway, I can’t really get to into the story without submitting the entire script, so I will just recap each of the stories that stuck in my head enough to talk about it. Robert DeNiro is in a hospital dying of cancer (and while his performance was far sub par of what I would expect from him, at least he looked like he was dying) and Halle Barry is his nurse, who also has a husband in the military overseas. Michelle Pfeiffer is a mousy spinster secretary who quits her job in a huff and bribes Zac Effron to make her bucket list come true in the next ten hours. Jessica Biel is pregnant and her wimpy husband Seth Meyers wants her to give birth right after midnight to win some cash prize but are in competition with some other couple. Katherine Heigl is a caterer who is contracted to do food for a huge music industry party, and her ex boyfriend rockstar “Jensen” (played by an almost lifelike Jon Bon Jovi robot of some kind), who is the uber-prosaic music entertainment for the party and the Times Square deal, wants to win her back with emotionless dialog. One of “Jensen’s” background singers, Lea Michelle, gets stuck in an elevator with loser hipster comic book artist Grinch Ashton Kutcher (loser hipster is not much of an acting stretch for him, IMO) and proceeds to teach him something important about the true meaning of New Years Eve. Sara Jessica Parker reprises her Sex and the City roll with a 15 year old daughter, who wants to run around unsupervised through New York. Meanwhile, her long lost love interest Josh Duhamel plays one of the music company owners and apparently the hottest thing in NYC until he decides to meet Sarah at midnight. That’s most of what I can remember. Oh, yeah. Hillary Swank plays the woman in charge of the ball dropping who has to deal with an edge-of-the-seat situation when a fuse in the ball goes out, and then turns out to be the estranged daughter of Robert DiNero.
Honestly, that’s it for story. There is no actual conflict in any of these stories except for the whole “giant ball fuse” business. No one does any one thing remotely interesting. It was like watching 10 bad after school specials all edited together.
The stars. Honestly, I would normally give one for a guys like Robert DiNero, but he didn’t exactly light up the screen. I would also do one for some of the hot women in this, but for the most part they were bundled up for December in NYC and not that good looking. Also, I don’t know what this movie was doing with a PG-13 rating. It was so tame it was almost a G in my opinion. The only time any one of the characters even implied that sex ever occurred between humans was at the end when Katherine Heigl said something about it with the Bon Jovi-bot, and that image is going to take some drinking to get rid of. I’ve never not given any stars to a movie before. I guess I could give them one for the morbid curiosity the movie generated when I wanted to see which ending would suck the most. Kind of like how you don’t want to look at a car wreck when you drive by but cant help yourself. Total: one star.
The black holes. I’ll give 1/2 a black hole for each stupid sub plot, and call the extra ones spawned at the end a wash. Five black holes. The dialog was god awful. Two black holes. In addition to the dialog from the main characters sucking, the writers felt compelled to inject background dialog that made me want to murder puppies (I would never actually hurt a dog, BTW). One more black hole. A movie with no protagonist, antagonist, conflict, story, or point. Two black holes. Acting reminiscent of the Robin Hood play I had a bit part in back in second grade (I was guard #3. My one line was “I don’t like the forest”. Why can I remember that but not my social security number?). One black hole. Opening the movie with the odious Ryan Seacrest and having him resurface later like a flush that didn’t quite go all the way down. One black hole. Having two different musical numbers coalesce out of the ether like a torpedo launched from an underwater submarine. One black hole. Creating a fictional super star (“Jensen”) in a movie flush with real celebrities acting as themselves. One black hole. Pat endings so sugary sweet they could possibly kill every diabetic in the world. One black hole. The dumbest, slowest car crash in the history of movie making. One black hole. Total: 16 black holes.
So, a whopping 15 black holes, possibly the worst I have given this year. Was it really that awful? Yes. Yes it was. Can some enjoyment be had from it? Maybe, if you are stupid. Or perhaps have a serious case of ADHD. Good date movie? Sure, if your date is stupid or has a serious case of ADHD. Honestly, this movie should not only never be seen again by another human, but the 500+ stars of the film should band together with pitchforks and torches and burn the windmill in which the mad scientist/director Gary Marshal has set up his lab with his assistant/writer Katherine (Igor) Fugate. (A.D.D. image courtesy of the funny t-shirt category)
Wow. This isn’t my longest review, but it definitely took the longest to write. I wish I could just write “It Sucks” and hit the publish button. Oh, well. More movies this weekend. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Thanks for reading. Don’t see this movie.