Review: New Year’s Eve (2011)


Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher
Director: Garry Marshall
Country: USA
Genre: Comedy | Romance
Official Trailer: Here

For as many commercial holidays celebrated, Garry Marshall seems to present an equally commercial film to accompany them. It began with 2010’s Valentine’s Day and has continued with this year’s New Year’s Eve. The franchise probably won’t stop until every American holiday is represented, including Veteran’s Day. I can’t tell what is more disturbing, the blatant exploitation of the ticket-holding masses or how the cast seems to grow exponentially with each film. If Marshall continues with this trend, he’ll soon be making two-hour slide shows of celebrities’ headshots.

The enormous ensemble cast of New Year’s Eve has been carefully constructed of some of the hottest and hippest entertainers within the past few decades. There is Zac Efron, Halle Berry, Cary Elwes, Alyssa Milano, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers, Common, Lea Michele, Ashton Kutcher – it goes on for quite some time after that, but there’s really no point in lingering on it.

New Year’s Eve follows an unnecessary amount of story lines, as each big name finds their true selves or their true loves on what has been said to be the most magical and romantic holiday of the year. The vignettes are meant to be adorable little snippets of everyday lives, representing that we can all find true happiness, but the influx of characters creates the effect of chickens running around in a small pen, slamming head first into one another with nowhere really to go. It weaves mercilessly from one “heart-warming” cliché to another, with nothing original in between. Everyone tries to live life to its fullest in one night, which is just as impossible in film as it is in real life. The result is a massive overload that audiences can’t follow comfortably.

With everything that’s going on in New Year’s Eve there is no time for character development or a rich and influential plot. The only connection being made between the audience and the characters is facial recognition. We aren’t watching Randy and Elise the characters slowly form a romantic bond while trapped in an elevator together, we’re watching Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michele chat.

Everything about New Year’s Eve is tailored to make money. It feeds off the feel-good holiday spirit and the fact that every teenaged girl will see it first with their girlfriends and then again on a first date. Marshall, who has been in the business for 50 years, has obviously learned a thing or two about how to make a buck. Some of his hits include Georgia Rule, The Princess Diaries, Runaway Bride and the classics Pretty Woman and Beaches. Marshall has worked on iconic films and televisions shows during his career, such as The Odd Couple and Happy Days. Even some of his romantic comedies have been remembered fondly. Unfortunately, his work has devolved into a steaming heap of name-dropping.

New Year’s Eve is studio magic, churned out for mass-consumption by star struck audiences with nothing better to do. It is a product of our own society and how we demand nothing more than the superficial. Perhaps it is a reflection of things that are wrong in our own culture: rushed and impersonal relationships with the people around us, and a shallow appreciation for the lives we lead. Whether it is accidently profound or not, New Year’s Eve is a weak film with almost nothing to offer.

20/100 ~ PAINFUL. There has never been a more transparent film than Gary Marshall’s New Year’s Eve, save for political propaganda. It has sought out what consumer-driven society craves and will cram you full of its superficial, kismet absurdity.

Jocelyn Codner

Film has has given me some of the best experiences and memories of my life, from connecting with my family to getting closer to my friends. I graduated from Ithaca College's Roy H. Park School of Communications with a degree in Screewnriting and a goal to one day see my work on the big screen. Until that day, I occupy my time with watching and enjoying the work of others and discussing it with all of you!