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New Year's Eve(2011)
The lives of several couples and singles in New York intertwine over the course of New Year's Eve.
For more about New Year's Eve and the New Year's Eve Blu-ray release, see New Year's Eve Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on May 3, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Zac Efron
Director: Garry Marshall
» See full cast & crew
New Year's Eve Blu-ray Review
Here's a good idea for a New Year's resolution: stop making mediocre romantic comedies.
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, May 3, 2012
Sarah Jessica Parker. Michelle Pfieffer. Robert De Niro. Halle Berry. Ashton Kutcher. Katherine Heigl. Josh Duhamel. Zac Efron. Jessica Biel. Jon Bon Jovi. Lea Michele. Carla Gugino. Cary Elwes. Hilary Swank. Cherry Jones. Common. Sarah Paulson. Seth Myers. Yeardley Smith. Matthew Broderick. Sofía Vergara. James Belushi. Abigail Breslin. Joey McIntyre. Larry Miller. Ludacris. Jack McGee. Hector Elizondo. John Lithgow. Ryan Seacrest, and more A-listers, character actors, young Disney Channel upstarts, fading stars, and semi-familiar faces than I care to count or continue rattling off. No, it's not a list of director Garry Marshall's Facebook friends. It's the cast of New Year's Eve, the critically panned spiritual successor to Marshall's... well, critically panned Valentine's Day. Like Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve drowns its sorrows in endless storylines, characters, and countless cameos, all at the expense of a focused narrative or a cohesive film. It also isn't that much different from skimming a handful of Facebook pages. Most of the relationships can be summed up in a few words (if only "it's complicated"), backstories can be broken down into convenient bullet points, status updates are often shallow and narcissistic, and many a conversation is contrived, self-gratifying and oh-so-inconsequential.
Just how many comedies, romances and romantic comedies can one film sustain? Let's count, shall we? It's December 31st. The city is bustling, love is brewing and hollow New Year's resolutions are on the rise. The VP (Hilary Swank) in charge of the annual ball drop ceremonies in Times Square prepares for the coming midnight madness with the help of her friend (Ludacris) and a recently fired electrician (Héctor Elizondo). A mother (Sarah Jessica Parker) fights with her daughter (Abigail Breslin), a feisty teen determined to go to Times Square with her boyfriend (Jake Austin). A record label secretary (Michelle Pfeiffer) enlists the help of a young deliveryman (Zac Efron) to help her complete a series of tasks before the strike of twelve. A dying cancer patient (Robert De Niro) spends his final hours with a kindly nurse (Halle Berry) after his doctor (Cary Elwes) gives him some bad news. A comic book artist (Ashton Kutcher) finds himself stuck in an elevator with a singer (Lea Michele). An aging rock star (Jon Bon Jovi) tries to repair a broken relationship with his ex (Katherine Heigel) before he takes the stage in Times Square. Two couples (Seth Meyers and Jessica Biel, and Til Schweiger and Sarah Paulson) compete to give birth to the first baby of 2012. A record exec (Josh Duhamel) mulls over love after breaking down by the side of the road. And... there are more. More lovers, more everyday people, and more tales of love and life, all of which, you guessed it, overlap and connect in one way or another.
Overcrowding is clearly an issue, as is pacing, but it's the script and performances that tank Marshall's best efforts. New Year's Eve isn't episodic, it's erratic. Frivolous and arbitrary even. It wants to be a collection of thematically linked short films a la Paris, je t'aime and New York, I Love You, but its terribly conventional and altogether expected character connections, though loose, are disjointed and distracting. The love and longing of the evening also wages war on the drama and the heartache. Marshall and screenwriter Katherine Fugate aren't quite sure what tone they want to strike, so they strike as many as they can, often in rapid succession. But the comedy bits aren't cute or charming, the melodrama is spread about as thick as it can be spread, and the romances are paper thin, to the point of being one-dimensional. The actors give it their all, they do. There just isn't enough for them to work with. Fugate crams in too many subplots and tries to accomplish too much with each one, neglecting the first rule of short storytelling: keep it simple. Rather than focus on romantic love alone, or tragic loss, or parenting, or rekindled relationships -- some unifying element -- the filmmakers tackle it all, making it that much more difficult to walk away from New Year's Eve with something, anything that might make it more than a disposable diversion or utterly forgettable entertainment.
Marshall, now in his late 70s, doesn't have a firm grasp on modern comedy either, which wouldn't be an issue if he weren't actively trying to bridge the gap between classic silver screen screwball comedy and breezy contemporary rom-comming. I know one man's groans are another man's deep belly laughs, but aside from a few grimaced grins and all-too-scarce snickers, New Year's Eve nearly put me to sleep. Younger filmfans will find Marshall's style dated, aggressively sentimental and mind-numbingly sappy; older cinephiles will find his quest for the fountain of tonal youth forced and frustrating. There are naturally those who will have an absolute blast watching New Year's Eve; laughing themselves to tears one minute, grabbing for tissues the next, and snuggling up next to their significant other throughout. Chances are, though, you already know if you or someone you share a screen with will inevitably fall for Marshall's ensemblerific rom-com and, chances are, if you adored Valentine's Day, you'll adore its pseudo-sequel. There really isn't a lot that separates the two actually, other than the holiday being celebrated. That leaves Marshall plenty of room to work in coming years -- Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving Day, maybe even Halloween Night -- but after that, the pickings get slimmer and slimmer. What follows? St. Patrick's Day? Cinco de Mayo? Flag Day? Arbor Day? I doubt it will ever come to any of that but, frankly, it wouldn't matter which holiday Marshall grabbed hold of and throttled. It would just amount to yet another overpopulated, underwhelming dud with too many actors, too much squandered talent, and too many missed opportunities.
New Year's Eve Blu-ray, Video Quality
Let the festivities begin. New Year's Eve may put some filmfans to sleep, but its 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer will keep rom-commers partying into the early morning. Never mind the frosty grays of New York in late December, Charles Minsky's wintry palette favors warmer colors, vibrant primaries, lovely skintones, and deep, devoted black levels. Contrast falters a bit when the Times Square lights aren't illuminating the darkness, but clarity is rarely affected. Detail is quite good, as should be expected, with reasonably refined textures, crisp closeups, clean edges, satisfying shadow delineation and a pleasant veneer of grain. Softness comes and goes, sure, as does crush, but none of it proves problematic or distracting. Artifacting, banding, aliasing and other anomalies keep their distance as well, leaving little room for complaints. Say what you will about New Year's Eve; if nothing else, its high definition presentation is primed to sweep viewers off their feet.
New Year's Eve Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't exactly disappoint, but it also doesn't exactly drop you into the center of Times Square either. While the rear speakers certainly make a valiant effort, the film's original sound design isn't nearly as convincing as it could be. Crowds keep their distance rather than pressing in, even if pressing in is precisely what they're doing; cheers erupt but rarely overwhelm, which is strange considering just how many people are packed into a relatively small area; and outdoor acoustics are decent but, considering the proximity of the buildings and the roar of the crowd, fail to convey the experience of standing in Times Square seconds before a new year arrives. It all struck me as a bit too superficial, a bit too manufactured, and a bit too restrained. Volume and commotion do not equal prowess and precision. All that being said (and admittedly overstated), the film's music sounds great, filling the soundfield with ease, taking advantage of the LFE channel, and making the most of each song, romantic crescendo, and on-stage concert and in-elevator solo. Dynamics and dialogue are spot on too, without any prioritization issues, lost lines, drowned voices, or faulty effects to speak of. Ultimately, the film's sound design and resulting experience is a touch too detached and sterile for my tastes, but Warner's lossless efforts are sound.
New Year's Eve Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
New Year's Eve Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I'll make this easy. Did you enjoy Valentine's Day? If your answer is yes, you'll feel the same affection for New Year's Eve. If your answer is no, it's probably a good idea to find something else for you and your significant other to rent on a rainy date night. For those who do venture into the belly of Marshall's New Year's beast, though, Warner's Blu-ray release won't leave you wanting thanks to a strong video transfer, a decent (albeit slightly superficial) DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and a solid selection of extras. I'd personally skip this one but, obviously, my tastes aren't everyone's tastes. If you're a sucker for romantic comedies... correction: if you're a sucker for every romantic comedy, give New Year's Eve a try. Otherwise, there are plenty of other fish in the rom-com sea.
New Year's Eve: Other Editions
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New Year's Eve Blu-ray, News and Updates
• New Year's Eve Blu-ray - February 18, 2012
This May, Warner and New Line Home Entertainment will bring New Year's Eve to Blu-ray. Director Garry Marshall's follow-up to his seasonal hit Valentine's Day follows a diverse group of New Yorkers through some wild pre-New Year's Eve misadventures. New Year's ...
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