New Year's Eve


Written by Jack Sharp
19 Monday 19th December 2011

The film takes place on New Year’s Eve and follows several mind-numbingly contrived romances, most of which are joined together in some farfetched way (see Love Actually and Garry Marshall’s last film Valentine’s Day). Arguably the main focus here is the character of Clair Morgan (Hillary Swank), whose job it is to ensure that the annual Times Square ball drop goes to plan. Swank is joined by an all-star cast, which includes Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Ludacris (AKA Chris Bridges).

Only two types of people named Chris would surely refer to themselves simply as “Ludacris”: unpopular early-1990s kids TV presenters, or overbearing middle-aged software developers, who wear piano key neckties and boast about fictitious sexual accomplishments. I’m still yet to figure out which category Chris Bridges fits into, but in New Year’s Eve he takes on the seriously under developed role as Hillary Swank’s gratuitous friend.

In the opening minutes of the film, we’re introduced to Michelle Pfeiffer’s character, Ingrid, who is seen falling into a massive, reeking pile of garbage—acting as a fitting metaphor for how the rest of the film pans out. Ingrid is the film’s hapless, ageing female loser, who enlists the help of her young co-worker Paul, a disgustingly upbeat party animal and sex pest played by Zac Efron, to help her complete a series of New Year's resolutions before midnight.

Laura and Jensen

In another part of the city, Jon Bon Jovi appears as the biggest insult to the holiday season since he provided his voice to the 1980 Christmas/Star Wars novelty song 'What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)'. He stars as cocksure middle-of-the-road rocker Jensen, who, we’re repeatedly told, is pretty much “the best in the music industry”.

When he’s not fantasising about giving himself a long, slow, self-congratulatory blowjob, Jensen makes vague, half-hearted attempts to get back with his ex-girlfriend Laura (Katherine Heigl). Having walked out on Laura shortly after proposing to her, Jensen is now back in New York City to make amends and also perform bland, confusingly well-received soft rock at Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Meanwhile, Jensen’s one-dimensional backing singer (Lea Michele) finds herself stuck in an elevator with a misanthropic comic book artist named Randy (Ashton Kutcher). Randy’s entire character is defined by how much he loathes New Year’s and his hilarious, scathing observations of a society gone mad. “What about, uh…Christmas texts,” he astutely observes to his friend on the phone. “That generic ‘Happy Christmas’ that everybody sends—” Yeah, what is the deal with that?

Just in case the film was starting to seem a bit too jovial, Robert De Niro makes a much too convincing appearance as Stan, a cancer patient whose last wish is to watch the ball in Times Square drop this New Year’s Eve. In contrast to the rest of the characters, especially Jensen’s unrelenting dickishness, one could be forgiven for believing that Stan’s scenes have been lifted from an entirely different film altogether. Until that is, Paul (Efron) continues to rear his smug, bobbing head.

Hailey and Kim, who's let herself.

Elsewhere, Sarah Jessica Parker takes on the role of Kim, Paul’s sister and a woman described by her daughter as somebody who “needs a man”—specifically a characterless handsome man with inherited wealth (Josh Duhamel). Kim spends much of the film traipsing after her teenage daughter Hailey (Abigail Breslin), who’s hoping to receive a stomach churning wet kiss from her emotionless, slack-jawed teen boyfriend. Hailey is tastefully introduced to the audience by lifting up her top in front of her mother and bellowing: “I’m fifteen and this is not a training bra!” This, supposedly, from a shy teenage girl with low self-esteem.

Perhaps I’m simply out of touch with young people, but I was surprised to see the teenagers in this film playing a game in which opponents take turns at throwing a tennis ball at a coin on the floor. I’d previously believed that this was a pastime reserved exclusively for 19th century shoeshine boys (played historically with halfpennies and the inflated bladder of a chaffinch) and confused modern day Special Brew drinkers, but apparently not. Apparently even cool, leather jacket wearing teens enjoy a good game of roadcoin.

The final and arguably most forgettable story in New Year’s Eve follows the irritating pursuits of an unlikeable couple played by Seth Meyers and Jessica Biel, who are hoping to win a big cash prize by having their child born at midnight on the big day. As you can no doubt tell, all of these stories (with the exception of the kids throwing a tennis ball at coin) come together somehow, weaving a rich, schmaltzy tapestry of disappointment. There’s also an embarrassingly vague and vapid message to be learned here, part of which suggests that New Year’s Eve is a fab time to have a party.

The credits role and the audience (I’m the only person in the cinema) are treated to a blooper reel, undermining any ounce of poignancy that the film’s message may have initially had. The bloopers are accompanied by Pink’s lyrically challenged anthem “Raise Your Glass”, which warns listeners not to be fancy, but instead to “just get dancey”. Pink also asks, “Why so serious?” which prompts me to leave the cinema, quickly. Unfortunately, I end up dropping my phone and I have to wait for the lights to come back on before I can find it. Because of this, I have to watch the whole damn credit sequence, complete with a jokey endorsement for Valentines Day on DVD.

Needless to say, New Year’s Eve is pretty awful, although the hyperbole surrounding it is not be entirely justified. Claudia Winkleman reportedly described it as “the worst film of all time”; it’s not, at all. It’s not Birdemic: Shock and Terror, nor is it Manos: The Hands of Fate. It’s quite simply crap. Crap that I’m sure a lot of people will no doubt be receiving on DVD for Christmas next year.

Find about more about New Year's Eve by visiting the film's official website.

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at and we will respond asap.