Garry Marshall’s “New Year’s Eve” is the type of film that appeals to people who buy celebrity magazines they spot on racks while waiting to cash out at a grocery store. It’s packed to the brim with old timers and newcomers and everyone in-between. It’s a safe enough film, even innocent for the undemanding viewer, and if you figure into that lot, “New Year’s Eve” is currently available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and for download 5/1 courtesy of Warner Bros.
Ingrid (Pfeiffer) is a woman looking for her purpose in life, helped along the way by Paul (Efron). Tess (Biel) and Griffin (Meyers) are in a race against the clock to have the first baby of the New Year. Randy (Kutcher) and Elise (Michele) are trapped in an elevator, one desperate to get out and one not eager to leave. Claire (Swank) is the in charge of making sure the Times Square ball drops at midnight but she runs into a major problem. Following the converging stories of dozens of characters, “New Year’s Eve” tells these stories and more, showcasing love, hope, excitement, sadness, joy, laughter and sorrow on the most exciting night of the year.
What can I say? It’s a celebrity party. You’re either into that, or you’re not. I’m personally not the biggest fan (or indeed, in the demo) for these type of movies, but I can see their appeal. They’re certainly easy enough to watch, if ultimately unsubstantial. But that’s the point, right? A lot of flash, and little substance.
The film packs on the cast: Halle Berry, Jon Bon Jovi, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Heigl, Lea Michele, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, and Sofia Vergara, to name just a few. And I do mean a few. The film is crammed with A-list stars, literally a who’s who of “hot” actors of the moment. I have no doubt that in 20 years you could look back at “New Year’s Eve” and find out who used to be a pretty big deal just from the cast list alone. This is as safe a bet as you can possibly get in Hollywood, and no doubt it was easy to cast once you got a handful of commitments. The other two handfuls probably came running to be in the film for little to no money. If you were an actor, wouldn’t you want to be in this cast?
The stories certainly aren’t very involving or all that interesting. Unless, of course, you were fans of the actors. Then “New Year’s Eve” has you covered. For everyone else, you’ll be waiting for at least one or two of the potentially interesting stories to bust loose from the pack. You’ll be waiting for a while. This is all gloss and no substance, I’m afraid, and even though I expected this going in, actually getting it was a tad disappointing. Hey, call me an optimist if you must.
Special features on the Blu-ray disc include a full-length audio commentary track by director Garry Marshall. Impressive, since the old guy is in his ’70s. You’ll rarely find filmmakers his age who are interested in laying down tracks to their movies nowadays. It’s not the most fascinating commentary, but you have to admire his enthusiasm for the film, if nothing else. I just wish he had done a better movie.
You also get a gag reel (about 10 minutes) and about 15 minutes worth of deleted scenes. Not surprising that a lot got left on the cutting room floor given the cast. Marshall and company probably shot a ton hoping to capture magic given the stars onscreen. Three featurettes round out the special features: Jon Bon Jovi and the girl from “Glee” record a track for the movie; and two separate featurettes that could probably have been merged into one, which basically consist of the celebrity cast and other celebrities talking about their New Year’s Eve in NYC memories. It’s good to be famous.