It’s hard not to take aspects of this job personally. New Year’s Eve is an example.
For me, having to sit through used-to-be Hollywood TV icon and now movie producer and director Garry Marshall’s film is punishment for my ripping of last year’s equally awful holiday opus Valentine’s Day.
I wasn’t alone. Critics panned the film by the score. But this is take it personally day, so I’ll take having to review it as punishment.
By the way, Marshall shamelessly plugs Valentine’s Day in the film’s outtakes. They are about all worth seeing and provide the only laughs.
This is where I take my "taking the film personally" to another level and get personal with Marshall.
Note to Mr. Marshall: Try to make your next movie as funny and interesting as New Year's Eve's outtakes or do something as outrageous and hilarious as when you originally introduced Robin Williams' Mork from Ork on Happy Days.
Note to reader: If you didn’t see the original episode that introduced the masses to Williams’ brilliant adlibbing and comedic skills, try to find it. The episode is one of TV’s funniest ever 30 minutes.
Back to business. Marshall’s flick has eight stories running simultaneously. All center around the famous televised New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York City. Some segments are connected. Some aren’t.
Screenwriter Katherine Fugate wrote this and wrote the again righteously skewered Valentine’s Day. She teases you with story threads that make you “wonder” — as if you care by the time you get to that point in the movie — how one character is connected to another and if that connection leads to love and romance.
Used to be megastars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer are plopped into a pretentious plot with 20 or so up-and-coming or now off the hot list stars.
Here’s the score sheet:
* Rock star Jon Bon Jovi leads a segment as a pop singer in love with beautiful chef, Katherine Heigl. Here she looks a lot like Ashley Judd, an actress at a more believable age for the aging rocker.
* Glee’s Lea Michelle gets stuck in an elevator with Ashton Kutcher. It’s the most ironic of the sequences. Getting stuck in an elevator with Michelle is a far preferable fate than getting stuck in a theater with her almost too many to name costars.
* De Niro’s character is dying. Who can blame him. Anything to get out of this one.
* Pfeiffer does a pushing middle-age woman wanting to experience "the unusual" before the end of the year. She enlists Zac Efron’s nicest guy in the world to help. Depending on your personal point of view, hers is really the only interesting story and the only real interesting character.
* And since we must, here are a few of the film’s “stars:” Halle Berry, Sarah Jessica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Hilary Swank and Josh Duhamel. I have a theory that actors get involved in projects like these for two reasons: 1) it’s a quick, easy paycheck, and 2) the person they’re working with is really nice.
Marshall, I hear, is a pretty nice guy, so cookie-cutter characters or not, why not help him out?
As mentioned earlier, Marshall gained fame, first writing, then producing television shows decades ago. So it is no surprise that New Year’s Eve has more in common with TV from the era. Though Marshall didn’t have anything major to do with them, The Love Boat and Love, American Style come to mind first.
They’re 1970s and early 1980s TV at its very worst. Unless you count Marshall’s creations LaVerne and Shirley or the aforementioned Happy Days toward the end of its run.
In the late 1980s, Marshall left the medium and moved to movies. And with some success: Beaches, Pretty Woman and Overboard.
Since then, things have been hit and miss, but mostly miss. New Year’s Eve is a major miss and is just about as much fun as watching a rerun of last year’s festivities.
And the recommended rerun would not be the celebration with Ryan Seacrest, who just happens to have a very badly done cameo in a very badly done movie.
The start of a new year should be much more fresh than this.
Mr. Movie rating: 1 star
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens today at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, at the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.