We all need a good ole grounded rom com, a believable heart warmer, jam-packed with feel-good factor and New Year’s Eve isn’t it.
You may not know it but you’ve seen this one before – can’t remember? If you’ve seen Valentine’s Day (hard to miss if you have more than two TV channels), Love Actually or any other predictable, cheesy Rom Com, there’s nothing new in Garry Marshall’s V-Day follow-up.
A group of people, whose lives are linked by the spectacular New York New Year’s Eve celebrations, the Time Square Ball drop, get waylaid by life and struggle to make it to their respective celebrations on time.
The cast is also a Love Actually style romp of Rom Com who’s who with SJP, Kutcher, Pfeiffer, Berry, Heigl, Duhamel, Swank, Efron, Biel, Breslin, Vergara and Michele on the bill with the only major surprise being De Niro. What was he thinking? It can’t be comedy gold as he plays a dying man lying in a hospital bed without pain relief, physical or emotional, eager to escape his lonely existence. The subsequent plot makes no sense and is insulting in its opportune outcome.
Lack of narrative and abundance of sickly canderel segments are designed to make half the audience cry and the other half join in but for completely different reasons.
No heart string plucking device is left untended: Reunions? Tick. Brokenhearts? Tick. Anxious parents-to-be, tick, tick. Coming of age-er, cynical lovelorn-er, chance meetings and mysterious romance? All present and correct. They’re put together in such an un-forgivingly clichéd, coincidental manner that we should hate rather than like New Year’s Eve but much like the hyped event itself, it’s hard not to like it, at least in parts.
There are some light-hearted comedy moments, some likeable characters that you can’t help but root for, especially Pfeiffer and Efron’s unusual but successful pairing and a nice twist at the end. Marshall's cinemtatographer Charles Minsky's wonderful Times Square crowd scenes look like, and are, the real McCoy, filmed on New Year’s Eve in 2010, with a small section dressed in 2012 memorabilia. As happens with most New York set films, the Big Apple once again takes centre stage and looks beautiful.
If it’s pure switch-off, enjoyable yet forgettable, superficially uncomplicated escapism you’re looking for, grab your popcorn and remember to stay for the out-takes.
If it’s true feel good factor you’re after then forget this unworthy tip of the hat to Brief Encounter and let It’s a Wonderful Life beckon.