(Dull vignettes about love and loneliness)
Garry Marshall follows up on his fairly successful "Valentine's Day" with dull vignettes about lonely people looking for love in Times Square on New Year's Eve. Some of the characters are likeable and you pull for them to find what they are looking for, but most stories are not developed enough for you to really care that much.
There are three characters who do find their true loves in a satisfying ending to a mish-mash of situations that take place as New York City prepares to drop the ball on New Year's Eve. Unfortunately, Marshall drops the ball on some of the stories, especially the one about the two couples trying to have their babies born the closest to midnight to win a $25,000 prize. The four people are irritating and the resolution amounts to nothing.
My favorite character was Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer), a lonely secretary who impulsively quits her job, makes a "bucket list" of 10 things she wants to do before the ball drops, hires a young motorbike courier, and sets out to accomplish her goal. While some of the items are a bit of a stretch (take a trip to Bali/walk all the boroughs of New York City), Paul (Zac Efron) finds a way to accomplish them.
Hilary Swank plays the director of the ball drop, faced with a stuck ball and an approaching midnight ... and someplace to be shortly after.
Robert DeNiro plays a dying man who holds out to see his last New Year's Eve, in one of the more poignant stories. He also has one of the few funny lines in the movie.
Jon Bon Jovi is good as the pop singer who has second thoughts about his relationship with the chef for the evening's big shindig (Katherine Heigl) in one of the more contrived stories.
Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michele get stuck in an elevator.
Halle Berry has a two-handkerchief moment.
Sarah Jessica Parker plays the mother of a teenager (Abigail Breslin) who has run off to be with her friends in Times Square.
There are more stories and more characters, all having their moments as the stories intertwine beneath the background of Times Square on New Year's Eve. If nothing else, the movie shows the blatant commercialism of Times Square and the event that draws hundreds of thousands of people to stand shoulder to shoulder to count down from 10 and watch a giant ball slide down a pole.
There are lots of messages about love, loneliness, forgiveness and relationships, but like New Year's Eve, it will soon be over and forgotten.
Rated PG-13 with some adult situations, but nothing much to worry about with the younger set.