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New Year's Eve (DQ)


Stars: See AF review

Director: Garry Marshall

Still trading on the feelgood success of Pretty Woman 20 years ago, director Marshall follows Valentine's Day with another patchwork tale of beautiful New Yorkers solving their problems on a special day, in this case New Year's Eve.

So lightweight it could rise and float away at a touch, the film does feature an unusually restrained performance from Robert De Niro (have to take issue with AF on that one) as a dying cancer patient cared for by nurse Halle Berry (we should all have such nurses).

Other segments have ever-vapid Katherine Heigl as a caterer hired to provide food for the prestigious Ahern Records Ball, but still carrying a torch for the star attraction there, Jon Bon Jovi; Michelle Pfeiffer as an ageing Ahern employee who throws up her job, steals boss John Lithgow's tickets to the ball, and offers them to messenger Zac Efron if he'll help her cross 'pre-midnight' desires off her list; troubled mom Sarah Jessica Parker whose teenage daughter Abigail Breslin escapes to join the revellers; cynic Ashton Kutcher who becomes trapped in a lift with a dewy-eyed singer (Glee's Lea Michele) with predictable romantic results; and mom-to-be Jessica Biel, who tries to induce labour to win a $25,000 prize for the baby born closest to midnight.

Naturally, some of these stories intersect and you just know that Ahern exec Josh Duhamel's mysterious midnight date will turn out to be someone else in the cast.

Despite the occasional good line - 'We're getting more celebs than rehab' - the glossy film is hardly high on quality and only middling as entertainment, though it probably does set a new record for product placement. And few of its cardboard characters seem to have a life outside its two-hour runtime. But it entertains passably enough while we're watching it, and Marshall's lucky talisman Hector Elizondo pops in amusingly late on as an electrician hired to save the day when the famous Times Square glitterball suffers a short circuit. To round things off, Michele contributes an agonisingly off-key version of Auld Lang Syne.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
117 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 06 Dec 2011