Like Valentine's Day, Garry Marshall's other holiday-themed, star-studded extravaganza, New Year's Eve features eight intersecting vignettes about people searching for hope, and yes, in most cases, love.
Here's the rundown. (I'm not going to bother using character names; when a movie has as many celebrities as this one, they become sort of superfluous.) Josh Duhamel is hoping to meet the "extraordinary" woman he met last New Year's Eve by chance at a pizza place. Michelle Pfeiffer is a bored office worker who hires bike messenger Zac Efron to make her New Year's resolutions come true. Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers are competing with Sarah Paulson and Til Schweiger for the $25,000 awarded to the first baby born in the new year. Hilary Swank is orchestrating the Times Square ball drop and encounters technical difficulties that can be solved by only eccentric electrician Hector Elizondo. Sarah Jessica Parker is a single mom trying to prevent her teenage daughter, Abigail Breslin, from spending midnight in Times Square with a boy. Wise guy Ashton Kutcher and perky Lea Michele get stuck in an elevator. High-profile caterer Katherine Heigl, whose sous chef is Sophia Vergara, has her heart broken by rock star Jon Bon Jovi (who, oddly, does not quite play himself). Robert De Niro is dying in a hospital, and Halle Berry is his nurse. All of this drama is sprinkled by wise words from Ludacris, who plays a cop and, ostensibly, Hilary Swank's work husband.
Although the plot (or, rather, plots) moved a little slowly at first, New Year's Eve is ultimately fun and frothy, spiked with the kind of gentle twists that you (okay, I) loved in Valentine's Day. High points included commentary on Sarah Jessica Parker's shoes, Seth Myers's comic timing, Sofia Vergara's silliness, and an appearance by recent "Project Accessory" contestant Shea Curry. Oh, and the Christmas decorations backlit by the glitz of Times Square. As always, the flashier the better.