No-one does New Year’s Eve quite like the Americans, so how fitting this season’s festive feel good film would be set in none other than the Big Apple itself.
From the director who brought you 2010’s Valentine’s Day, this jigsaw movie pieces together several smaller stories to create one big story with one thing in common – a life-defining moment when the ball drops at midnight on 31st December.
The method has been used time and time before, to great success with Love Actually, and less so more recently with Valentine’s Day.
With a star-studded cast including the likes of Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jon Bon Jovi, you can’t help but get sucked in by the lingering smiles, soft lighting and neatly crafted character-to-character compliments.
Set against the backdrop of Times Square, and occasionally other New York sights, the audience is taken by the hand and ever so gently walked through the lives of a few locals with one thing dominating their thoughts – love.
Each individual’s little love-based scenario is slightly different than the last and talks about love in its different forms, promoting a fun for all the family appeal.
It is unfortunate, therefore, the brief glimpses into the characters prevent any sustained interest in any of their predicaments.
And there are times when you get the impression the cast are having more fun than then audience, backed up by the bloopers reel during the end credits.
The film centres around Hilary Swank’s character, who is responsible for making sure the ball drops in Times Square - a tradition which dates back to the early 1900s.
The most memorable of the short stories include De Niro’s dying wish to see the ball dropping with his daughter (Swank) from the roof of the hospital he is laid up in, two pregnant women fighting it out to scoop $25,000 by having the first newborn of 2012 and a middle-aged secretary’s (Michelle Pfeiffer) bid to complete her resolutions for 2011 with the help of a young delivery boy (Zac Efron).
There is, of course, the young and attractive duo of Ashton Kutcher, a drifting arts graduate who seems to hate this particular time of the year, and Lea Michelle, a shy but talented back-up singer, who, as fate would have it, are trapped in a lift on the afternoon of her big night.
She is meant to be performing alongside rock legend Jensen (Bon Jovi) who coincidentally has unfinished business with the caterer (Katherine Heigl) he ran out from earlier in the year.
Then there’s the story which keeps you guessing until the very end, with a few red herrings along the way, just for good measure.
Sarah Jessica Parker is a single mum whose attempts to keep her daughter from having fun only lead to her remembering what New Year’s Eve is all about – a leap of faith. Will she follow through on the arrangements she casually made a year earlier?
Could this be the moment her life takes a turn for the better?
And there in lays the true message behind the film.
It tries to encourage its audience to live life to its fullest and to embrace our impulses. I only wish I’d been reminded of those things two hours ago.
At a time of the year when people tend to make resolutions to ensure the next year of your life will be better than the last, do yourself a favour and wait until it makes it on to television.
A popcorn flick at best.
by Matt Brooks