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New Year’s Eve Drops the Ball

Lots of celebs in view; No plot in sight

Director: Garry Marshall
Rated: PG-13, Runtime: 118 mins.
Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Zac Efron.

En español  |  Are you the type of person who can never recognize celebrities' faces? I know I am. I can say without hesitation that if Meryl Streep were to walk up to me on a sidewalk and demand, "Do you know me? I'm America’s greatest living screen actress," I'd stare blankly at her for a good 30 seconds before finally settling on whether or not I was looking at Glenn Close, Blythe Danner, or Patricia Clarkson (Meryl, I'm afraid, would come in a distant fourth).

So I was at a distinct disadvantage when I sat down for New Year's Eve, the latest all-star romantic comedy from director Gary Marshall—a film that, as one character observes in one of its funnier lines, “has more celebrities than rehab.” When people say they don't make movies like they used to, they are not speaking of Marshall, who most emphatically does make movies like they used to, in this case they way they made them in 1935. That's when Hollywood studios churned out entertainments like The Big Broadcast and Gold Diggers, featuring the studios' biggest stars by the dozens in skits, melodramas, and musical numbers, all linked by the flimsiest of plot lines. New Year’s Eve, which traces the trajectories of a dozen or so New Yorkers on the Big Night, follows in that tradition with a cast that parades past the lens as if they’re on the People's Choice Awards red carpet. On hand are a lot of young faces for the post-Disney Channel crowd (Zac Efron, Abigail Breslin, Jake T. Austin), musicians trying to show some acting chops (Ludacris, Sarge, Common, and don't any of these guys have last names?), and otherwise respected actors of whom Marshall clearly has incriminating photos (Michelle Pfeiffer, Cary Elwes, Katherine Heigl, Halle Berry, and this sad list goes on and on).

(l-r) Jon Bon  Jovi as Jensen and Lea  Michele as Elise in New Line Cinema's romantic comedy