The idea of Valentine’s Day director Garry Marshall and screenwriter Katherine Fugate producing a series of holiday-themed omnibus romantic comedies seemed like a joke for critics to append to their reviews of that movie, but the existence of New Year’s Eve proves that it’s no laughing matter: Once again, Marshall and Fugate have rounded up a cast of bored famous people to dutifully trudge through a bunch of thinly conceived stories about romance set during the titular holiday.
While a few actors return from Valentine’s Day (most prominently Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Biel), New Year’s Eve comes up with new and different uninteresting characters for them to play, alongside everyone from Glee’s Lea Michele to Robert De Niro, plumbing new career lows. It’s casting by marketing, with a star and a storyline for every conceivable demographic.
Those storylines, which this time include some non-romantic plots, play out as predictably and superficially as possible, fitting together in the most cursory ways. Each one barely has any time to develop, and the movie is overstuffed with half-formed ideas that go nowhere. None of the romantic pairings boasts any chemistry, and the inspirational moments are all patently false. As they did in Valentine’s Day, Marshall and Fugate ascribe an artificial level of meaning and importance to the holiday, to the degree that De Niro’s character is literally waiting for the midnight countdown (and Times Square ball drop) so that he can die in peace. We can only hope that this cardboard franchise will follow suit.