Imagine the globe. Now zoom in on North America…to the right, New York City to be specific. Now imagine it is December 31st, the streets buzzing with people, the warm atmosphere coexisting with the freezing weather. This is the set up for Garry Marshall’s new film, New Year’s Eve. The director is best known for one of the most revered romantic comedies in the last twenty years: Pretty Woman. He also directed Frankie and Johnny, and recently, Valentine’s Day.
The film is a collection of stories that intertwine and revolve around the ceremonial ball drop which takes place every year in Times Square. The cast includes Academy Award winning actors Robert De Niro, Halle Berry and Hilary Swank. Also part of the cast are Michele Pfeiffer, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Josh Duhamel and Zac Efron; amongst other Hollywood stars.
…the stories begin and the truth is that most of them are certainly forgettable.
The film begins with a documentary, fly on the wall view of the city preparing itself for the biggest night of the year. These first shots show technicians setting up the main stage, preparing lights and camera angles. They leave us wanting to see more of what goes on behind the scenes; a view of the city that goes beyond the image of the ceremony we encounter on television. However, the stories begin and the truth is that most of them are certainly forgettable.
One of the highlights is the relation between Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Paul (Zac Efron). Ingrid is a lonesome assistant who quits her job in the morning leading to the New Year. She is determined to fulfil her New Year’s resolutions and finds Paul is willing to help her out, although not without getting something in return: tickets to the hottest party that night. Pfeiffer’s portrayal is by far the most crafted. Her story is sweet and the chemistry between her and Efron is palpable. Conversely, Efron succeeds in not taking the “cool guy’ stereotype too far. He is funny, yet you can also see the character’s progression throughout the film. All of this helps the script get its message across: the spreading of joy and the emergence of candid love.
…the vision we are presented with in New Year’s Eve is much more like an MTV version of New York City…
NYC has been on film much more than several other cities put together and the way it has been depicted always points to its inexplicable allure as a metropolis. Films like The Apartment, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Manhattan have the city as a secondary character, one that needs not to speak for the audience to get a sense of its idiosyncrasy, even if sometimes that was not the main purpose of the film. But the vision we are presented with in New Year’s Eve is much more like an MTV version of New York City; mainly preoccupied with glamorising its bright neon lights and unabashed branding. It is the epitome of consumerism and void of any spirit; another brand to look up to. Literally.
The film is definitely targeted towards an audience that enjoys easy plots and characters that are not necessarily intricate but definitely accessible. Perhaps too accessible at times. There are some funny moments and others that will make you think: “Haven’t I seen this before…?” And the answer is yes; yes, you have.
Image courtesy of New Year’s Eve