Garry Marshall used to be better than this. Only a little bit better, but still, that small bit of betterness would have spared us all from the grotesquely trite and thrown together nature of New Year's Eve. Starring every possible celebrity, as well as a few washed up ones, New Year's Eve follows the basic premise of Valentine's Day, Marshall's other holiday franchise film. With occasionally intertwining stories of various--but not socioeconomically diverse--denizens of New York City scrambling to create the perfect midnight moment, the only worthwhile character is an old woman who appears for all of one minute as she closes the cage to an elevator.
The chronicle of one of the most pressure-filled days of the year begins with your generic sweeping panoramas of the city and dives right in to the uninspired problems of Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer), Laura (Katherine Heigl) and her ex superstar boyfriend Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi, who might actually be better off with the name Jensen), Randy (Ashton Kutcher) and Elise (Lea Michele), Griffin (Seth Meyers, please stick to Weekend Update) and Tess (Jessica Biel), and Sam (Josh Duhamel). Not to mention a fuck ton of other inane subplots tossed into the mix--just in case Marshall missed an audience demographic to pander to.
Other, more "meaningful" plots include the wish of a dying man (Robert De Niro--come on, De Niro, you don't have to do shit like this) to see the ball drop one last time, Claire (Hilary Swank), the vice president of the Times Square Alliance, who has to contend with getting the ball to function properly before midnight, Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Hailey (Abigail Breslin), a mother and daughter who are palpably drifting apart and who also live off the Myrtle-Broadway stop (a fact I feel is pertinent to highlight as a case in point of the absurdity of this movie because two white women such as these could never and would never live off of this stop), and Aimee (Halle Berry), who must interact with her significant other (Common, in the most random appearance of all, which says quite a bit for a movie like this) via video chat as he serves a tour of duty in the army (note: A similar plot occurred with Julia Roberts in Valentine's Day).
Cameos from Michael Bloomberg (that man really has no idea how to win the favor of the people, does he?), Ryan Seacrest (why not?), and Penny Marshall (makes sense) are added, along with a brief appearance from Matthew Broderick as Mr. Buellerton (you know, because his most famous film character is Ferris Bueller), the president of the Times Square Alliance, probably just so Sarah Jessica Parker could ensure he didn't get distracted by another woman while she was filming. In other unexpected roles are Cary Elwes, Carla Gugino (who may have the best moment of the film during the outtakes when she pulls out two copies of Valentine's Day from Jessica Biel's vag), and Alyssa Milano (who has all of two lines. Come on, this woman is a respected television star. Show some respect).
The only saving grace of New Year's Eve is its end. And for most of it, you feel as though you actually have lived an entire year without at least the perk of getting completely fucked up on the last day to cleanse the memories of what you've seen and heard. It would have been preferable to see the version of this film parodied by Saturday Night Live, in which New Year's Eve is instead called The Apocalypse and everyone rushes to find one last kiss/fuck before the advent of 2012. Alas, that would be out of Marshall's directorial realm. But I can only pray that he doesn't ruin any other holidays with whatever his next project may be. Marshall also kind of makes you realize that there are way too many fucking holidays in this country. Though I'm sure most Europeans would disagree.