New Year’s Eve
Posted December 11, 2011 by Daniel Hodgson in
New Year’s Eve substitutes star power for character development, throwing up two dozen major to minor celebrities up on the screen for two minutes each, and hopes it will make up the difference.
New Year’s Eve is the kind of movie that makes me appreciate movies I didn’t like to begin with. While Crash was often dramatically one-note, at least each character had an interesting story of their own and was meaningfully connected to one another. The cast was large, but manageable. New Year’s Eve stumbles over everything that Crash got right. There are just too many characters doing too little in too short of a time. Where Crash’s characters undergo changes, good and bad, New Year’s Eve‘s characters are either flat and static, or go through abrupt, unmotivated changes. While each segment is brief, each one gets so much wrong.
15 year old Hailey (Abigail Breslin) wants to meet up with a cute boy (Jake T. Austin) in Time’s Square, but her overbearing mother Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) won’t let her. The boy gets no development whatsoever, so there’s no desire to see her get him.
Elise (Lea Michele) is a backup singer to Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi), but is stuck in an elevator with party-pooper Randy (Ashton Kutcher), and may not be able to make it. They trade first impressions with one another, but this kind of characterization is weak. Having them actually do something would tell us a great deal more about either character, but they’re just chatting away to pass the time while trapped. Riveting.
Patricia (Michelle Pfeiffer) quits her job and hires courier Paul (Zac Effron) to help her keep her New Year’s Resolutions before midnight, in exchange for giving Paul her tickets to an exclusive masquerade. This story could have been its own, quirky The Bucket List-esque movie, but it would have to be handled better than it is here, and by a lot. Patricia’s passivity is borderline Bella Swan, and Effron as Paul goes through the segment posing and posturing like Justin Beiber. Paul goes through an abrupt, unmotivated changes (and there’s a lot of this in this movie), like when he insults Patricia while she’s in ear shot, and just as suddenly wants to make it up to her, when there’s no reason for either turn.
Sam (Josh Duhamel) needs to get to New York to make a speech at the company party, and ultimately hitches a ride with a family in an RV going to town. En route, he gives the family his lengthy back-story about an anonymous woman he met at last New Year’s, whom he promised to meet again one year later. As he exits the RV, the driver says, “Remember, follow your dreams!” Who talks like this? There’s just no reason to get behind Sam. If he doesn’t get to New York to make his speech, then well…oops? Further, we don’t know much about him other than his back-story to care if he gets a woman who’s identity we don’t even know.
If that weren’t enough, there’s at least four more stories. I could have summarized them instead of Patricia’s or Sam’s stories, and it wouldn’t have made an ounce of difference. None of the stories work individually, and while some of the characters are connected, it’s not in a consequential way that adds up to anything. It doesn’t spoil anything to say that Paul and Kim turn out to be siblings, because it has no impact on the plot. It has no impact on us either, as the revelation doesn’t mean anything. They just happen to be brother and sister, and that’s it.
New Year’s Eve substitutes star power for character development, throwing up two dozen major to minor celebrities up on the screen for two minutes each, and hopes it will make up the difference. Robert Deniro plays a man dying of cancer, who just wants to watch the ball drop one last time. Somehow, not a single care was given that day.