New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is a second-rate Love Actually, according to ANNIE RAFF. And it doesn’t even have Hugh Grant in it.

abigail breslin annie raff ashton kutcher Film film review garry marshall Glee hilary swank Jessica Biel jon bon jovi katherine heigl mark kermode New Years Eve rom com Sarah Jessica Parker valentine's day

Directed by Garry Marshall


It’s Christmas time. There’s no need to be a film snob. So why not take yourself down to the pictures and indulge in some frothy escapism, the visual equivalent of a double mocha-choca cappuccino? Such were my thoughts when I decided to see New Year’s Eve, the latest from the director who inflicted Valentine’s Day upon us.

You would be forgiven for thinking that NYE is simply the second instalment of Valentine’s Day what with the sleb filled cast, the near identical description on imdb of both films (various characters whose lives ‘intertwine’) and the repeat appearances from Jessica Biel and Ashton Kutcher.

But, my friends, you would be oh so wrong. If you want to compare NYE to anything, it’s Love Actually, because the former aims to do everything the latter achieves, and fails spectacularly in the process.

It’s like Love Actually, but it’s shit.

There’s Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker), the clog wearing single mother whose 14-year-old daughter (Abigail Breslin) escapes to kiss a Bieber-clone at midnight. Then there’s Claire (Hilary Swank) who fulfils the same function as Hugh Grant in Love Actually, except rather than Prime Minister she is in charge of the ball dropping in Times Square at midnight. At one point, when it looks like the ball might not drop, she makes a soppy televised speech about love and forgiveness which global superstar Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) just happens to be watching. He is then moved to resolve a lover’s tryst with ex fiancée Laura (Kathrin Heigl).

And then there’s the girl from Glee playing the girl from Glee but with a different name, singing to Ashton Kutcher in a lift. And there’s a shoddy storyline involving Zac Efron and a dowdy Michelle Pfeiffer (I know, I didn’t think it was possible either!).

It’s all quite forgettable.

‘But what did you expect, Annie?’ you might be wondering, if you have managed to stay with me this long and have remembered my name. A good question. To respond, I must defer to the great Dr Mark Kermode who judges films on their own standards, whether or not they are to his exacting taste. So as much as you might hate the fluffy rom-com on principle, you can still assess whether it achieved what it set out to do, on its own terms.

But did New Year’s Eve achieve what it set out to do? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that it provides great family entertainment with plenty of ‘fricking’s to protect younger ears. Yes, because it’s got the single mom, a nod to Iraq servicemen, three generations of heartthrobs and a token black policeman thrown in for good measure (played by Ludacris, quite well actually).

But no, because the execution was just clunky. The characters were flimsy. The product placement was laughable – since it was set in Times Square, we had Robert Downey Junior’s face staring down at us promoting the new Sherlock Holmes film.

Basically, it was very American, in the worst possible sense of the word.