‘New Year’s Eve’ Review (2011)


New Year's Eve movie review

Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer in New Year’s Eve
Photo: Warner Bros.

Right, right, turn off the lights,
We’re gonna lose our minds tonight,
What’s the dealie, yo?

Are you ready? It’s New Year’s Eve and director Garry Marshall has brought on screenwriting hack Katherine Fugate to pump out another ensemble rom-com centered on a day when “things happen”. It’s a night for first kisses, the finding of long lost loves, an appreciation for life, quitting jobs, having babies and dealing with death and cancer. Sure, that last bit is a bit of a downer, but don’t be a party pooper… It’s New Year’s Eve, everyone is here, and Toshiba is sponsoring!

Party Crasher,
Penny Snatcher,
Call me up if you want gangsta
Don’t be fancy, just get dancey
Why so serious?

Oh P!nk, I hear ya, I just wanna dance, but first we have the plot to talk about and this could take some time… Ready? Let’s do it!

First there’s Paul (Zac Efron), he’s a bike messenger who is also a bit of a douche. He’s friends with Randy (Ashton Kutcher) who hates New Year’s because he seems to pretty much be a miserable person in general. Anyway. Like, whatever, amirite?

So Paul is delivering a package to Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) who works at a big record label and has just received four tickets to the company’s massive New Year’s party. “Like that’s the biggest party ever!” Paul tells her while Ingrid sours up and looks miserable, hating her job, her life and pretty much everything else at the moment.

Soon after, Ingrid quits her job and makes Paul a deal, “You get the tickets if you can help me with last year’s New Year’s resolutions.” Of course the list includes going to Bali, traveling around the world and a bunch of other ridiculous things that can’t be accomplished in one day, but come on, this is New Year’s! Improvise!!!!

So raise your glass if you are wrong,
In all the right ways,
All my underdogs,
We will never be, never be anything but loud
And nitty gritty, dirty little freaks
Won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass!

Next we come to Claire (Hilary Swank), she’s in charge of the Times Square ball drop where a malfunctioning New Year’s ball is a cause for concern. Meanwhile, the talent for the night, Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi), is a bit blue. His ex-fiance, Laura (Katherine Heigl), just so happens to be catering the party and wants nothing to do with him. Slap! Slap! It’s a double-slap to the face. Why can’t these two kids get over what happened in the past and see they love each other?

Slam, slam, oh hot damn
What part of party don’t you understand?
Wish you’d just freak out
Can’t stop, coming in hot,
I should be locked up — right on the spot —
It’s so on right now (it’s so f**kin on right now)

It’s on for sure! It’s an all out war zone in the hospital maternity ward as the couple with the first baby born on New Year’s gets $25,000! Yeah, cash is money! The competing couples are Tess and Griffin (Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers) and Grace and James (Sarah Paulson and Til Schweiger) and it’s a battle to the death. There will be blood and… ah who am I foolin’? It’s a party! “How many centimeters are you dilated? Me too! Party!”

Don’t be fancy, just get dancey

Love is in the air and we still have plotlines to introduce! Remember Randy (Kutcher), well he gets stuck in an elevator with one of Jensen’s back-up singers, Elise (Lea Michelle). She’s all, “New Year’s is awesome,” and he’s all, “Pshhh, whatever, no it’s not.” Then she’s all, “I’m a back-up singer,” and he’s all, “I draw comic books.” I think you know the rest.

I do, however, have to be serious for one second here, when Elise sings the back-up portion of a song Jensen is singing back at the party, it is quite possibly the most ridiculous moment I’ve seen in a movie this year. Essentially, Randy is listening to this girl sing only the supporting portions of the song while the actual song is being sung elsewhere. It is a true mind bender, but hey, it’s New Year’s. Anything goes, so why don’t you just…

…raise your glass if you are wrong
In all the right ways…

Still, it’s not all roses on New Year’s. Sometimes your glass is empty, which brings us to Stan (Robert De Niro). You see, amidst all the parties, the singing, the babies and the love, you have Stan. Stan has cancer. He will most likely be dead in the next few minutes if he isn’t dead already. Around him… no one other than his doctor (Cary Elwes), his nurse (Halle Berry) and the random, late pop-up appearance of Alyssa Milano for a role that must have net her about $500. Like I said, cash is money.

Stan’s story is a moment for reflection. Live your life to the fullest, be nice to others and treat those you love with respect. Message received.

So if you’re too school for cool,
And you’re treated like a fool,
You can choose to let it go
We can always, we can always,
Party on our own…

But man, forget all that sadness, there is still more going on here. Did I tell you about Hailey (Abigail Breslin)? I didn’t?!!? Well she’s 15-years-old and she really wants to kiss this boy at midnight, but her shut-in of a mother (Sarah Jessica Parker) would rather keep her at home in the stable. Those plans change, however, when naughty Hailey climbs out her bedroom window and is all…

…raise your glass…

Meanwhile, across town, Sam (Josh Duhamel) is rushing back to the city where he has a rendezvous with destiny. You see, last year he ran into a girl on New Year’s and she was having some issues at the time, as any girl would… right ladies? Uh, huh, yeah! But she gave him a note that said to meet her in a year if he was still interested… Well, you know he is, but will she be there? Will she want to… Oh, you know what’s coming don’tcha…

We will never be never be anything but loud
And nitty gritty, dirty little freaks
Won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass…

And I’m obviously leaving people out. After all, it’s not like I can go on forever so let me just say time is found to add John Lithgow, Hector Elizondo, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Sofia Vergara, Common, Carla Gugino, James Belushi, Yeardley Smith, Penny Marshall, Cherry Jones, Matthew Broderick and Ryan Seacrest to the mix and I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone else.

Fact of the matter is, yes, this is a terrible movie, but on the plus-side, I didn’t find it nearly as insufferable as Valentine’s Day. In the end, the most interesting thing about this film will be whether or not it can eclipse the $110 million Valentine’s Day made, if it can, I think we’ll need to prepare ourselves for Christmas Day, which appears to already be in the works.

Won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass,
Just come on and come on and raise your glass… for me