As you might have predicted, there is a running joke in the film that New Year’s Eve is always a disappointment. People have such high expectations—the best party, the funniest friends, the perfect kiss—that they invariably end up let down. So now let’s apply that premise to a movie about New Year’s Eve. You have a respectable first installment, Valentine’s Day, from last year. It’s not literally a sequel, but you get the idea. Also, you have a cast that includes at least three Oscar winners, and a highly regarded director in Garry Marshall. Bet you can’t guess what happens.
Let’s peel the onion: Storyline No. 1: Sarah Jessica Parker is a single mother trying to keep a short leash on her teenage daughter. Story No. 2: Hilary Swank is a Times Square executive trying to make sure the ball drop goes smoothly. Story No. 3: Josh Duhamel is a sexy record company exec who had a spine tingling kiss with a woman last New Year’s Eve and is hoping to reenact it. Story No. 4: Robert De Niro is a dying cancer patient who just wants to see the ball drop one last time. He is tended to by his devoted nurse, Halle Berry. Are you exhausted yet? Because we’re just getting started.
Story No. 5: Ashton Kutcher, the resident cynic who hates New Year’s Eve, gets trapped in an elevator with Lea Michele. Story No. 6: Michelle Pfeiffer plays a disillusioned secretary who bribes Zac Efron with tickets to an exclusive party to fulfill her list of New Year’s resolutions. What am I forgetting? Oh yes, story No. 7: Seth Meyers and Jessica Biel are trying to have the first baby of the New Year; and story No. 8: Katherine Heigl is an up-and-coming caterer trying to get over being dumped by her rock star boyfriend, Jon Bon Jovi, who also happens to be performing at the event she is catering. All that in an astounding 118 minutes! Thank God I wasn’t invested, my head would have exploded!
In the end, there are about 15 of the 118 minutes that are worthwhile. The producers managed to handpick some of the most annoying actors in Hollywood for many of the roles, and then proceed to pair them with a wildly unlikely romantic opposite. Cut half the subplots, expand on the few that were compelling and maybe, just maybe, you’d have something.
It's a 5.