As we look forward to the holidays, we can count on a few things: first, our favorite seasonal drinks from our regular coffee spot. Second, dusting off our “ugly Christmas sweaters” for various parties. Lastly, a feel good holiday movie about life, love and other sentimental feelings. Consider New Year’s Eve this year’s go-to holiday film. Disclaimer: This review is coming from a completely unbiased opinion; I have never seen Valentine’s Day so any comparison to the former will not be coming from me. However, I have seen my fair share of vignette, inter-related type films and I’ll be honest, I’m a fan. It is a tough feat to be able to pull off multiple story lines, happening at the same with an all star cast that most studios can only dream of, but director Garry Marshall’s romantic comedy New Year’s Eve has achieved all of those and more.
New Year’s has a special meaning to Marshall; to him it is not just another holiday. Marshall exclaims that it was on New Year’s Eve nearly 50 years ago that he proposed to the love of his life Barbara. The underlying theme of love is prominent throughout the film’s entirety and I believe it is due to Marshall’s personal connection to the day that can be seen and felt on screen.
The cast of New Year’s Eve is no joke; Academy Award ® winners, musicians and television stars grace the screen with their charisma and charm. Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Hilary Swank, Sofia Vergara Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michelle and Sarah Jessica Parker are only a handful of the multi-generational cast- it is definitely a party any person would love to go to. While extremely talented, I’m not sure if the actors were pushed to their fullest potential. Sarah Jessica Parker’s character may have well been named Carrie Bradshaw and Sofia Vergara practically was Modern Family’s Gloria. One could either see this as a cop-out, or using these familiar characteristics to their advantage. Whatever the case, the audience seems to enjoy the films’ light-hearted nature and overall holiday spirit.
The suspension of disbelief we as an audience have come to expect from films doesn’t come from super human strength like most action movies, or from vampires, wizards or other third world creatures. This film encourages us to believe in the power of people and most importantly, the power of love. Whether it be from a single mother and her coming of age daughter, a lonely woman and empathetic hottie, or a rock star and his muse, the chemistry on screen is intense and believable between all the characters.
My only complaint was how suffocated I felt by the product placement. Having a scene take place in New York’s Times Square already lends itself to a fair share of billboards, bus ads and flashing signs. But, the amount of advertising was too extreme for this kind of film — I guess we can assume this is how the actors’ quotas were met. Aside from the obvious and rather obnoxious billboards, subtle lines and actions also contributed to the product placement. In one instance, Josh Duhamel’s character is at the bar and orders a “Bacardi” and Coke. No generic rum here. In another scene, Michelle Pfeiffer’s character reaches into her beige satchel. It seems innocent enough, an everyday woman’s purse. That is, until she lifts open the flap, to reveal in big black and white font “Marc Jacobs.” It is obvious that product placement is useful and even necessary in movies, but the amount in which it was used in New Year’s Eve was distracting. After all, with so many stars on screen to begin with, any more things to look at would give me a headache.
Anticipation for the holiday builds once the house lights come up. As I was leaving the theatre, I noticed couples walking out hand in hand, some even sneaking kisses between sentences. With societies’ romantic ideals and hopes of a perfect New Year, as well as those seen in New Year’s Eve, it’s only natural to feel that impending excitement of a new beginning, a chance to start off 2012 right with a new outlook on life and the importance of family, friends and love.