New Year's Eve Blu-ray Review
If I was writing a thesis instead of a movie review for NEW YEAR’S EVE, I might begin by positing a question like “At what point do you think it is time for a film-maker to just stop making movies?” I would follow it up with talks of some of the great directors from history who, toward the end of the career, just couldn’t seem to capture the public awareness anymore. There are some great names on that list, like Orson Welles (the poor man made his best movie at age 25). But there are other directors who never made it that far and still had nice careers. Directors who made a bunch of crowd pleasers, popcorn fluff, and made a great living doing it. Directors like Garry Marshall. While Garry Marshall’s most recent forays into the director’s chair (VALENTINE’S DAY and it’s spiritual sequel NEW YEAR’S EVE) may have been commercially successful they almost certainly didn’t connect with their audience.
NEW YEAR’S EVE begins by introducing us to a bevy of characters, all of whom will somehow magically become intertwined in some way (because that’s what happens in movies like this). We get to meet Hilary Swank (MILLION DOLLAR BABY) who plays a newly appointed person in charge of the NYC Times Square ball drop. We meet Sarah Jessica Parker (Blegh!) Mrs. Broderick plays a mother of a young girl played by Abigail Breslin (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, who is almost unrecognizable here) who wants desperately to spend her 15th New Year’s Eve with her friends so that she can, maybe, get to kiss a boy.
I usually write about characters, as opposed to actors, when I’m giving a breakdown of the plot. But honestly there are so many characters thrown at the audience you never develop any feelings for any of them… except, maybe, for Zac Efron (I know, I’m as surprised as you are I just wrote that). Efron shares most of his screen time trying to help an older woman (played by Michelle Pfeifer) complete her previous New Year’s resolutions list in exchange for tickets to THE party of the night. As (sarcasm) great as these plot lines sound, there are more. Many, many more. There is the story of a newly successful cook (Katherine Heigl) who gets a huge gig only to find out that she has to deal with her former fiancé (a rocker played woodenly by Jon Bon Jovi) who will be playing at the event.
And then there is the story line following two young couples who compete to have the first baby born in NYC in the new year (because this hospital apparently has a $25,000 prize for the honor). All along the way we get to meet a ton of other characters and try to piece their stories together as well. Maybe it would be best to just tell you who else is in the movie – I think that’s the whole point anyway.
In addition to those actors mentioned above, the film features (in somewhat prominently, and hence confusingly, way) the following: Ryan Seacrest (as himself), Jessica Biel (STEALTH), Ashton Kutcher (Demi Moore’s ex), Joey McIntyre (yes, from NKOTB), Ludacris (FAST FIVE), Robert De Niro (BEING FLYNN), Halle Berry (DARK TIDE), Cary Elwes (NO STRINGS ATTACHED), Alyssa Milano (CHARMED), John Lithgow (DEXTER), Common, Seth Meyers (SNL), Sarah Paulson (AMERICAN HORROR STORY), Carla Gugino (SIN CITY), Sofia Vergara (MODERN FAMILY), Lea Michele (from GLEE, who of course, sings with Bon Jovi), James Belushi (THE DEFENDERS), Josh Duhamel (TRANSFORMERS), Yeardley Smith (THE SIMPSONS), and any other character actors and cameos.
Do you think that Garry Marshall just said, “I want to make a movie called NEW YEAR’S EVE, and I’m going to use everyone I know in the business”. That’s a long list. In addition to being long in the tooth, Mr. Marshall has been working in the business his entire life and he obviously owes someone a TON of favors or feels like he wants to work with all of his friends one last time before he retires (I want to be clear – I have no insider knowledge – I just can’t imagine any reason he would make THIS movie). I remember a time when I wanted to see his movies. But now, instead of an engaging story, Marshall spends the movie cramming as many stories and people on screen as possible while giving us gags that we will hopefully confuse as a story (i.e. lets all laugh at the jolly fat man dancing, isn’t it funny that the silly lady is afraid of heights, etc.).
As I wrote above, NEW YEAR’S EVE is, in many respects, a sequel to the vaunted fluffball VALENTINE’S DAY, released in 2010. It may surprise you to find out, but that movie actually had a heart… well, parts of it anyway. I’m sad to say that NEW YEAR’S EVE suffers from all of the problems of its predecessor but never elevates itself to be anything more than tripe. NEW YEAR’S EVE is saccharine sweetness of the worst kind.
Video: (1080p, 1.85:1 Widescreen) NEW YEAR’S EVE will never look better on your HD television. The Blu-ray presentation looks really nice and it is clear that, despite its failings, Marshall knows how to work with a director of photography.
Audio: (DTS-HD MA English Dolby Digital) The sound is competently presented but NEW YEAR’S EVE never really takes us into any immersive feeling of being there.
Commentary with director Garry Marshall (01:57:54) Marshall has a great voice and would be a lot more fun to listen to if he had something to ADD to the already poor NEW YEAR’S EVE. He rambles quite a bit here and spends a lot of the time reciting the plot. Not one that I would suggest unless you’re a die-hard fan of the film (or of Garry Marshall’s).
The Magic of Times Square (06:12) The many, many stars and crew talk extremely briefly about New Year’s Eve and about why Times Square was chosen as the backdrop for most of NEW YEAR’S EVE.
NEW YEAR’S EVE Secrets of the Stars (06:14) Many of the stars talk about their personal New Year’s Eve ritual. If you enjoyed NEW YEAR’S EVE you’ll probably enjoy this… I just don’t get it.
Jon Bon Jovi & Lea Michele Rock NEW YEAR’S EVE (05:23) This is a strange homage to Bon Jovi, one of the most terrible aspects of NEW YEAR’S EVE, who everyone fawns over for five minutes. Lea Michele is also mentioned (barely).
Deleted Scenes with Introduction by Garry Marshall (16:59) Marshall introduces several scenes that had to be deleted from NEW YEAR’S EVE. This is interesting primarily to hear from the director who talks about everything – sadly he comes across as scripted even though he’s supposed to sound like he’s talking off the cuff. Blegh. (The NEW YEAR’S EVE Deleted Scenes (07:48) are also available sans introductions with Marshall).
Gag Reel (11:04) I really enjoy gag reels, but on NEW YEAR’S EVE (like the movie) it drags on and on. If you are a fan, you’ll find some things to enjoy. Otherwise don’t waste your time.
This NEW YEAR’S EVE copy came with the DVD on the same disc as the Blu-ray and with an Ultra-Violet Digital Copy of the feature which can be downloaded and streamed to your various devices.