Sappy New Year: Sanctimonious storylines, dreadful dialogue and Ashton Kutcher as a nitwit called Randy… New Year”s Eve is nothing to celebrate
New Year”s Eve (12A)
Verdict: A festive turkey
Nothing to celebrate: Ashton Kutcher stars in New Year”s Eve
This has been a vintage year for turkeys, and they don’t come bigger, more corporate or more greasily sanctimonious than Garry Marshall’s latest attempt to rip off Love, Actually.
The 77-year-old Marshall seemingly exhausted his talent making Pretty Woman 20 years ago.
Since then, he has dedicated his career to manufacturing some of the worst movies in history, including Exit To Eden, Raising Helen and the appositely titled Dear God.
Last year, the pandering schlockmeister got lucky with the pathetic romcom Valentine’s Day, which made nearly 200 million — despite the awful screenplay by Katherine Fugate — on the strength of the starriest, and most horribly misused, cast of the year.
Marshall’s even more excruciating follow-up, also written by Ms Fugate, begins as it means to go on, with former Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer falling face first into rubbish.
This turns out to be an uncharacteristically perceptive metaphor for the movie.
Pfeiffer’s exaggeratedly shy, dowdy office worker — this is not social realism — hands in her notice to her callous boss (John Lithgow), and employs the dishiest, most obnoxiously hip motorcycle messenger in Manhattan (Zac Efron) to drive her around New York and achieve a whole lot of ‘New Year’s resolutions’ in the few hours before the end of the year.
Yes, this sub-plot is essentially a remake of The Bucket List, with Efron standing in for Jack Nicholson, and Pfeiffer giving us her Morgan Freeman, though as she gains in raunchy self-confidence, she starts behaving more and more like Nancy Dell’Olio.
Pfeiffer’s to-do list includes ‘visit Bali’ and ‘save a life’, though not, sadly, ‘write a competent screenplay’, which would have been a hell of a lot more useful.
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New York mother: Sarah Jessica Parker plays a mother to 15-year-old Abigail Breslin
Efron agrees to do everything she tells him to, and is too dim-witted to point out that New Year’s resolutions are meant to be accomplished over a whole year, not during the last few hours of December 31.
The message of the picture, delivered with the sincerity of an unsolicited email from Nigeria, is that everyone deserves a second chance and forgiveness — even, presumably, Ashton Kutcher.
He, fresh from his separation from Demi Moore after his alleged infidelity, is foolhardy enough to play a character named Randy.
Randy is a cardboard cut-out with what he evidently thinks is a cute, shy, dimpled smile, because he uses it more times than Justin Bieber.
Randy vandalises his apartment building’s New Year’s Eve decorations — how cute is that — because a girl jilted him at high school on that very date.
He recovers rapidly from that life-destroying trauma by getting trapped in a lift with Elise (Glee-star Lea Michele) and raises the only laugh of the movie with the line ‘We’ve been stuck in here for hours’, which pretty much echoes the audience’s thoughts.
A night to remember: Jessica Biel”s pregnant character rushes to the hospital with Seth Meyers on the night
Elise is a backing singer who’s due to perform in Times Square with rock star Jensen — that’s Jon Bon Jovi, in a daring departure from his real identity.
Jensen’s having second thoughts about having run out on his fiance (Katherine Heigl) the previous New Year’s Eve, allegedly because he wouldn’t commit, though my theory is he caught a screening of her and Ashton Kutcher in Killers, and very sensibly ran for his life.
The reliably humourless Hilary Swank plays the neurotic career-woman who’s organising the Times Square festivities for her demanding boss, a miscast Matthew Broderick, who has all the menacing authority of a dormouse.
Sexy nurse: Halle Berry plays nurse to Robert De Niro in the film
As if these plot lines aren’t all depressing enough, there’s a cancer-ridden photojournalist (Robert De Niro) who has lost the will to live, despite having Halle Berry as his devoted nurse, and is descending into the twinkliest senility you ever did see.
‘I made so many mistakes,’ De Niro croaks.
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Premiere: Lea Michele and Ashton Kutcher posing together at the Los Angeles premiere of New Year”s Eve
He is rushing to New York for an assignation, possibly with a woman, but more likely his handsomeness trainer. Or he just needs to be inspected for woodworm.
It’s painfully obvious that most of the actors turned up for as short a time as possible, received no direction and delivered a performance that was inexplicably hailed as adequate on the first take.
Every scene is lame, every line banal, every performance shallow — and the product placement for Warner Brothers films is both shameless and shameful.
WATCH THE TRAILER FOR NEW YEAR”S EVE BELOW