Directing cheesy holiday flicks seems to be a continuous phase for 77-year-old Gary Marshall, who follows last year’s box-office flop Valentine’s Day  with another ensemble feature film. New Year’s Eve hopelessly tries to follow several New Yorkers on their quests to find love and fulfillment before the end of the year.  Of course, their lives will ultimately connect in a sloppy, predictable way in the film’s closing minutes.

The movie opens in New York City on December 31st. Anxious Claire (Hilary Swank) is armed with the task of making sure the infamous ball-drop in Times Square goes as planned, although the job turns out to be a lot more difficult than expected. Nearby, head chef Laura (Katherine Heigl) prepares for the biggest catering event of her career: an A-list gala where her former fiancé, rock star Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi), will be performing. Charming but conceited courier Paul (Zac Efron) would give anything to score tickets to the elite event, and he finds his way in through helping emotionally unstable Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) fulfill her New Year’s resolutions.

Like its sister film, New Year’s Eve struggles to follow but ultimately connect its numerous storylines. Despite its stellar cast (almost entirely Oscar and Golden Globe winners and nominees), the movie’s acting often falls short of, well, good. Lea Michele is basically reprising her nagging character on Glee as hopeful singer Elise, and it seems Sofia Vergara will always be considered the Colombian bombshell with her trademark “¡Ay!” (although to be fair, she did garner most of the movie’s laughs). And, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges attempts at acting serious just make it seem as though he is in excruciating pain. Don’t give up your day job, Luda, we beg of you!

Perhaps the most comical and enjoyable plotline centers on expecting couple Tess and Griffin Byrne (Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers), who are vying for the $25,000 prize given to the parents of the first baby born in 2012. Their competition against fellow pregnant duo Grace and James Schwab (Sarah Paulson and Til Schweiger) is altogether hilarious, and Carla Gugion of the Spy Kids franchise shines as the kooky, spiritual obstetrician Dr. Morriset.

Admittedly, New Year’s Eve was a “cute” holiday film, but don’t make seeing it a New Year’s resolution.

2.5/5 Stars

Directed by: Gary Marshall

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Ashton Kutcher, Robert de Niro, Halle Berry

Rated PG-13, 118 min

See if you liked: Valentine’s Day (2010)

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