It is New Year’s Eve and a young courier makes an unlikely deal with a middle-aged assistant. His flatmate meanwhile hates New Year’s Eve and wants to avoid all celebration of it. A teenager hopes to enjoy her first kiss, but is stopped from going out by her protective mother. A terminally ill patient hopes to see the ball drop one last time…
Love Actually has a lot to answer for. Granted, it was not the first film to feature a multi-strand narrative that ties together at the end, but it is responsible for the recent spate of films which employ this format. Whilst Richard Curtis‘ film did have some redeeming features, sadly the same cannot be said for Garry Marshall’s latest effort.
It is not simply the clichéd plots and stock stereotypes that grate. For a romantic comedy, New Year’s Eve is almost devoid of laughs. It is not entertaining, not even in a trashy or cheesy way. The predictable chain of events would not be a big problem if the film at least provided some amusing situations or jokes.
Worse than the lack of humour, however, are the vomit-inducing attempts at emotion. The mawkish voice overs and speech by Hilary Swank’s character are imbued with the worst kind of synthetic sentimentality. Rather than evoke emotion, these are more likely to irritate beyond belief.
If the assault on viewers’ minds was not enough, New Year’s Eve goes one further by including eyesore-inducing product placement. While characters discover the importance of love, forgiveness and new beginnings, logos for Nivea, Phillips and Toshiba parade around the screen like wanton hussies. If this wasn’t bad enough, audiences cannot escape the New York landmarks being thrust in their every direction. Perhaps this was a condition of filming in the city, but it was not a price worth paying. Warner Bros even sneak in an advert for their upcoming feature Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. At this point, however, viewers must just nod and utter “well played”.
New Year’s Eve boasts a lot of acting talent. Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Hilary Swank (among others) should be ashamed of themselves for agreeing to appear. Despite the varied cast, New Year’s Eve is unequivocal in its stance. Same race, heterosexual couples are the only ones featured here, with the onus on the fact that it is females who desire a kiss from an attractive male.
New Year’s Eve is one big cynical money-making extravaganza that fails to entertain. Hopefully it will kill the multi-strand, ensemble cast, holiday-themed romantic comedy trend dead.