[Rating: 2]

Director: Garry Marshall

Cast & Crew: Halle Berry, Jon Bon Jovi, Jessica Biel, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ashton Kutcher, Hilary Swank, Robert De Niro, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zac Efron.

Synopsis: Director Garry Marshall and a stellar ensemble cast will ring in the 2011 holiday season with the romantic comedy New Year`s Eve which celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts, in the intertwining stories of couples and singles, told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year. The film stars Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Chris “Ludacris“ Bridges, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Hector Elizondo, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Til Schweiger, Ryan Seacrest, Hilary Swank and Sofia Vergara. New Year’s Eve has been shot entirely on location in and around New York City.

Review: What do you get when you put a stellar star cast into a movie? A lot of force fed pathos and wooden performances? (Infused with humour in intervals). A feel good slice of life cinema, capturing the scurry of the metropolitan, but hardly expressing a hard-hitting story. Touted to be a romantic comedy, it celebrates the idea of an all embracing forgiveness, in a sermonic fashion. “Love thy neighbour” seems like the resonant voice of the film. You might as well read Deepak Chopra’s columns, since what you see on celluliod is just an overview.

The film culminates into a dazzling night minus dazzling performances to do justice to it. But then, with a cast heavy film, it could be a classical case of too many actors superbly sleepwalking through the script. The cast seems like they are attending a New York backyard house party, where they merrily greet each other minus being hounded with the pressure to deliver. The star cast is impressively wasted. What keeps you glued is the humour that is highly sitcom slapstick, offering scope for lots of audience guffaws.

Gary Marshall’s attempt at feel good cinema is just about good. But feels a little cheated on by an acting troupe that could do so much more. But then, lets give an equal thumbs down to the story scripted by Katherine Fugate, co-writer of Marshall’s Valentine’s Day, which seems more like a vibrant broadcast of New York. Don’t walk in expecting the same magic that he effortlessly created with his earlier films like “Pretty Woman”, “Runaway Bride” and “The Other Sister”. Love being the core message, its love that refuses to spread its wings wide enough to evoke a more engaging response.

Here is what each of the red carpet loyalists as in stars do in the film. Hilary Swank is heart rending as a nervous city executive, her job’s to make the iconic Times Square ball drop at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Michelle Pfeiffer plays a nagging lady with a list of life-uplifting things she wants to unfailingly do that night. Zac Efron plays an energetic dude who assists her in her lively mission. Ashton Kutcher plays a wasted illustrator who thinks New Years is overrated. Katherine Heigl an extremely hot chef nursing a broken heart. Jon Bon Jovi is a rock star with a troubled love life and soaring popularity. The legend Robert De Niro sadly plays a sick bedridden guy hospitalized and desperate to see the ball drop down at Times Square one last time. Jessica Biel is amusing in her efforts at delivering her baby right after midnight to get eligible for a rumoured huge cash prize. Reaffirming her talent with comedy and ofcourse, trivializing motherhood. Sarah Jessica Parker plays a disciplinarian mother to Abigail Breslin, who is trying hard to fight for her right to party independent of mommy. Their constant bickering seems unrealistic as moms overseas have little time to impose strictures on their rather wild kids. What you get through these performances are a set of nicely framed multiple narratives. But why on earth would emotions take such a backseat, especially when they are needed to surface in situations that will offer them some serious scope? A film backed with good actors having a good time. Kitty party on celluloid.

If any of you have watched the Mira Nair directed “ New york, I Love You”, you would instantly realize what the film could have potentially been. Eleven distinct stories had woven a tapestry of entertainment right before our eyes. How I wish Gary Marshall had referred to it as a guideline. And this is not to demean but to inspire a filmmaker who seems to have given in to a cast induced complacency. There is so much one can explore in a multi-narrative, you almost try second guessing so many possibilities. But then you know you are the audience and you are meant to judge somebody’s craft.

An average watch, great to kill time on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But if couch-lazying is your idyllic Sunday bet, then purely a DVD watch. Do watch it if you catch yourself often digging channels to watch their line up of sitcoms. Not great, not unbearable. Half-baked and just about good.

Verdict: Half-baked but not completely unwatchable.

Pashmina Narang

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