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July 12, 2012

5

New Year’s Eve

by Franz Patrick


New Year’s Eve (2011)
★ / ★★★★

In Garry Marshall’s “New Year’s Eve,” written by Katherine Fugate, not everyone was ready to greet the new year in New York City. Juggling about eight different but some intertwining stories, the film was not only insipid, it also lacked the necessary dramatic pull for us to be touched, in a genuine way, in terms of what it meant to end a year and start anew. I don’t often bring up the issue of race but this film really could have used some flavor. After all, isn’t the act of welcoming a new year celebrated by all people regardless of race, sexuality, shape, and size? The problem wasn’t that the majority of the characters were white: they were white and boring. The minority, represented by the African-Americans, were pushed to the side with nothing much to say until it was too late in the screenplay. And when they did, like their white counterparts, the sentimentality didn’t feel earned. The most bearable of the bunch included Claire (Hilary Swank) who was in charge of making sure that the famous televised ball drop at midnight went smoothly, but technical difficulties with its lights threatened to disappoint millions of people all over the world. There was a scene in which Swank delivered a supposedly insightful speech but it didn’t quite work. If anything, it was a reminder of Swank’s talent, that she could shine despite an egregious material that threatened to dilute what she had to offer. The storyline that tested my patience most involved a couple, Tess (Jessica Biel) and Griff (Seth Meyers), racing to have their baby boy to be the first newborn of 2012. If successful, they would win twenty thousand dollars. Their desperation to win this contest was supposed to be funny. I thought it was pathetic and unfunny because the characters were reduced to glaring matches with another pregnant couple (Sarah Paulson, Til Schweiger). The lessons the couples learned were just so mawkish and obvious, even a third grader could probably tell that what they were doing was wrong in the first five minutes. On some level, I enjoyed the friendship between Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer), a very stressed out record label employee, and Paul (Zac Efron), a friendly and charming courier. If Paul helped Ingrid to complete her list of resolutions, she’d give him V.I.P passes to a chic event. Although their scenes were unrealistic and at times Efron sounded like he was reading off cue cards, I liked that the material went all the way with this particular subplot. It was certainly better than watching Randy (Ashton Kutcher) and Elise (Lea Michele) get stuck in a lift and look miserable. While the two eventually found redeeming qualities with one another, I didn’t: I found the entire contrivance as false. “New Year’s Eve” suffered from a very basic dialogue, devoid of wit or any semblance of rhythm felt in actual conversations, coupled with one-dimensional characters. I wouldn’t even get started with the so-called romance between Laura (Katherine Heigl) and Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi). It was like pulling teeth without novocaine. The only time I lit up and showed my pearly whites was when Sofía Vergara, as Laura’s sous chef, appeared on screen with her hilariously infectious jovial personality. But what I found most distasteful was the film’s unabashed emotional manipulation. The characters engaged in trifles for the majority of the time and then Bam! a twist designed to pull at our heartstrings occurred toward the end. If it had been more ambitious and more diverse, perhaps most of us could relate and been more entertained by it.

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jul 12 2012

    Great, well written blog post! It makes so many great points! But well, I do think you should hit the ‘enter’ key more often though xD Still, awesome post! I loved it! :D

    Reply
    • Jul 12 2012

      Thanks so much!

      I know, sometimes the whole “one giant paragraph” thing bothers me, too. When I started, my reviews only consisted of about 5-8 sentences hence the 1 paragraph thing. In order to honor where I started, it’s become my thang, ya know? ;)

      Reply
  2. Jul 12 2012

    Franz,

    I agree with almost everything you said, particularly with regard to the race issue and the sentimental manipulation, but I would have put it in even harsher terms. I did not find a single redeeming aspect in this movie (Efron’s mere presence aside). The Kutcher/Michele storyline struck me as perhaps the most awful one. Not only did they have no chemistry whatsoever, there was simply plot or motivation there at all. I’d have loved to be present when this particular part of the script was pitched, if only for the opportunity to laugh the poor scribes out of the building.

    As for the Swank speech at the end, it felt infuriatingly cliche-ridden to me.

    Reply
    • Jul 12 2012

      Oh, good! I thought the race thing could potentially come off as offensive. But I really felt like it had to be said because it just bothered me so much while sitting through the film.

      Dude, you’re harsh but I like it! I guess it’s because I really wanted to find something good about it so I was optimistic. And yet it was still disappointing. Shockingly, according to the IMDB report of its worldwide gross, it’s a success. I hope there’ll be no sequel. =X

      Reply

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