“NEW Year’s Eve is one giant let-down,” declares Ashton Kutcher’s character in this mishmash movie that takes a bunch of romantic comedy cliches and strings them together like a set of Christmas lights.
This is probably the only time in life where I will find myself agreeing with Kutcher, whose party-pooping mood is at odds with the film’s opening narrative that praises New Year’s Eve for its ability to unite people all over the world in celebrating the new year.
Alas for director Garry Marshall, Kutcher’s sentiments are also a perfect summary for the entire film.
Marshall and writer Katherine Fugate have basically taken the same concept for last year’s collaboration, the LA-set romantic comedy Valentine’s Day, and transplanted it to a new over-hyped date on the calendar, December 31.
This time the location is New York where just about every character is obsessed with getting kissed/finding love/seeing the ball drop in Times Square at midnight/all of the above.
The film opens with dowdy middle-aged woman Irene (Michelle Pfeiffer) politely asking her boss (John Lithgow) for her end-of-year bonus.
He can barely remember her name so she has an epiphany and quits her job, deciding to get cracking on last year’s new year’s resolution list.
Elsewhere in Manhattan, competing couples try to be the first to pop out a baby after midnight to claim $25,000, while cancer patient Stan (Robert DeNiro) is hanging on to see the ball drop one last time.
Kutcher looks like he rolled out of bed to play a pyjama-pants wearing slacker who gets stuck in a lift with Glee’s Lea Michele and Jon Bon Jovi plays a version of himself, a rock’n’roll heart-throb booked to play a masquerade ball.
The overwhelming problem with this style of storytelling is it is basically a series of loosely connected comic and sentimental vignettes. There’s little chance to develop the characters, their back stories or the rationale for their actions. But who can be bothered to keep track when they’re all so vapid? Not I...next!