Spend New Year's Eve at home with your family. Spend New Year's Eve at a wild, drunken party. Just don't spend New Year's Eve watching "New Year's Eve."
An all-star cast of actors (three Oscar winners!) joins together in a dim-witted and dull series of not-so-interconnected stories set in Times Square during its annual night of revelry.
Aging director Garry Marshall — who mined a similar formula for commercial success (and critical disdain) in last year's "Valentine's Day" — is clearly looking for a little of the holiday magic provided by 2003's "Love Actually." Unfortunately, "New Year's Eve" provides neither romance nor humor.
The movie does throw together an interesting cast of performers, but neglects to give them anything interesting to do. It's stitched together like a bad episode of "Love Boat" (without the endearing antics of Gopher).
Marshall tries to keep at least eight different story lines aloft at one time, which is probably six or seven too many. Maybe eight.
There's Hilary Swank as the stressed-out executive in charge of the traditional New Year's ball drop. There's Michelle Pfeiffer as a neurotic secretary with a bucket list of impossible dreams, and Zac Efron as a helpful bike courier.
There's Jessica Biel and Seth Myers as expectant parents hoping to win a New Year's baby birth prize. There's Jon Bon Jovi as a broken-hearted rock star in love with Katherine Heigl's bitter chef. There's Ashton Kutcher as a New Year's grinch stuck in an elevator with "Glee's" perky Lea Michele.
Halle Berry is the sympathetic nurse for a dying Robert De Niro, in one of his most embarrassing roles — and that includes the "Focker" movies. Sarah Jessica Parker and Abigail Breslin play an overprotective mom and her rebellious daughter.
I haven't even mentioned Josh Duhamel, Cary Elwes, Matthew Broderick, Ryan Seacrest or "Modern Family's" Sofia Vergara, whose sultry, over-accented shtick is almost painfully unfunny here.
"New Year's Eve" is hopelessly cheesy and doesn't spark any emotion. Every once in a while there's a laugh (Larry Miller earns a chuckle in a brief role as a surly tow-truck driver), but those seem almost accidental.
I can only recommend that everyone avoids this, and maybe it will be out of theaters before New Year's Day. That might even spare us 2012's "Flag Day."
Rental Recommendation: "Love Actually" is everything "New Year's Eve" isn't. It makes a great holiday tradition for romantics at heart. Grade: A
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