By Don Simpson | December 8, 2011
Director: Garry Marshall
Writer: Katherine Fugate
Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Cary Elwes, Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers, Sarah Paulson, Til Schweiger, Carla Gugino, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Sofía Vergara, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, James Belushi, Sarah Jessica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Jake T. Austin
Valentine’s Day was a cruel and bitter reminder that film critics do not wield much influence — at least in certain realms of cinema — because even though Valentine’s Day is scoring a lowly 18% on Rotten Tomatoes (I rated the film a 2 out of 10) it went on to gross $214,976,776 and New Line Cinema deemed it worthy of a sequel (an extremely loose concept of a sequel at that). What does this say about film criticism and their relationship to film audiences? Not much. People were going to see a film like Valentine’s Day no matter what critics said about it, just as people are also going to see New Year’s Eve regardless of this 1 out of 10 review.
Fans of Valentine’s Day — whomever those poor suckers are — will probably scream that a highfalutin critic such as myself is inherently biased against films like New Year’s Eve; and, admittedly, I did enter the screening of New Year’s Eve assured that I would hate it. (I am absolutely certain that the rest of the Smells Like Screen Spirit staff would hate it as well.) So, why did I decide to “take one for the team”? Well, I do live closest to the location of the advance screening… But, I also figured since I was the one who drew the shortest straw in 2010 to review Valentine’s Day that I would be the most “qualified” to tear New Year’s Eve a new one as well. Besides, considering my excruciatingly low rating of Valentine’s Day, I figured that the odds were somewhat in favor of New Year’s Eve being a little bit better… But… Heavens to Murgatroyd! It turns out that New Year’s Eve is a mindless clusterfuck of ridiculousness! (This Funny Or Die parody trailer captures the sheer ridiculousness of this style of “filmmaking” quite brilliantly.)
Thanks to the relentless barrage of characters (most with fleeting roles that would normally be described as cameos) and no narrative to speak of (people are in love, people are dying, people are having babies, the ball at Times Square is stuck, blah blah blah…), writing a brief synopsis of New Year’s Eve is impossible. I made a concerted effort to provide you with a synopsis of Valentine’s Day, but this time around I am not even going to try. Trust me, it is not even worth it. As with Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve relies so much on Hollywood stereotypes and tropes that anyone can flawlessly determine how each character’s story line will end within minutes of their introduction. New Year’s Eve serves two purposes: to showcase a menagerie of Hollywood stars as if mere mannequins on a conveyor belt and to provide a few forced opportunities for Jon Bon Jovi to sing a few songs on screen.
It is quite fitting that Hollywood still churns out thoughtless, assembly line holiday films like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, since it is Hollywood that created the myths behind these holidays in the first place. The situations and dialogue found within Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve are by no means realistic — trust me, this stuff only happens in the movies. I am not a trained psychiatrist, but I suspect that the reason so many people get depressed during holidays like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve is because they cannot live up to the unrealistic expectations set by Hollywood. I will leave you with one question: Why do people watch these films if, in the end, these films are just going to make them feel like shit?