Undemanding rom-com jam-packed with celebs

2011-12-12 00:00

NEW Year’s Eve is the kind of film that makes critics and film festival fans wince, but if you like your movies undemanding and light, then this one is more than guaranteed to please.

Made by the same director as last year’s rom-com ensemble Valentine’s Day and featuring many of the same actors, the film is jam-packed with Hollywood’s finest. To quote a line from New Year’s Eve, there are “more celebs here than in rehab”.

As in Valentine’s Day, Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman) has woven together a number of different storylines — most with a romantic theme — and all set in New York City on New Year’s Eve.

Katherine Heigl plays Laura, a head chef catering a hot party for a record company run by Josh Duhamel’s character, Sam.

Among those at the party is Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi), a musician who asked Laura to marry him and then got cold feet. He now wants a second chance.

Sam, meanwhile, is forced to make the trip to his party in an RV when he crashes his car and worries he might not be able to meet up with the girl of his dreams.

Over in Times Square, Claire (Hilary Swank) is preparing for the biggest night of her career, ensuring that the famous crystal ball drops as planned to signal the end of the old year and the start of the new one.

Things are not, however, going quite to plan.

Lying in a hospital nearby is dying cancer patient Stan Harris (Robert de Niro), who wants to see this annual spectacle one last time.

Estranged from his family, the only person holding his hand is nurse Aimee (Halle Berry). In the same hospital are two couples who are vying to win $25 000 for having the first baby born in the city in the new year.

Also keen to go to Times Square is 15-year-old Hailey (Abigail Breslin), but her mom, Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker), would prefer them to have a quiet party at home.

Deep down, however, she has a secret longing of her own, but is afraid to try and make it a reality.

Other storylines involve back-up singer Elise (Lea Michele of Glee fame) and cartoonist Randy (Ashton Kutcher — an interesting character name given recent events with soon-to-be ex-wife Demi Moore) — who find themselves stuck in a lift.

Randy is something of a New Year’s Eve Scrooge, but Elise is determined to change his mind.

Then there’s lonely and socially inept Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer in a very dowdy role), who hires delivery guy Paul (Zac Efron), to help her make her New Year’s resolutions come true.

Some of the casting is odd — with the best will in the world I can’t imagine how fresh-faced Efron and Parker could be siblings, for example, but then if I wanted reality I could watch a documentary.

This is pure festive season froth, so, take your seat, suspend your belief for two hours and you’ll love it. ***

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