Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All-star algorithm

Like the cheesy but somewhat diverting “Valentine’s Day,” the Garry Marshall-directed “New Year’s Eve” crams a zillion stock romance, comedy and drama plots, this time centering on several New Yorkers celebrating (or ignoring) the season’s revelries.

And like “Valentine’s Day,” there are stars galore, playing uber-generic characters. Zac Efron plays a spunky delivery guy bringing Michelle Pfeiffer’s stressed record label employee to fun places; there’s the initially annoyed pair of neighbors played by Lea Michele and Ashton Kutcher; there’s Sarah Jessica Parker’s single mom character chasing after her rebellious daughter, played by Abigail Breslin. And that’s just about half of the main goings-on.

The star-studded roll call also includes Hillary Swank, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Robert DeNiro, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Josh Duhamel, and Sofia Vergara (playing her “Modern Family” character again in her third movie this year), among others. There are other unannounced actors making brief appearances as well, such as John Lithgow, Yeardley Smith, Joey McIntyre, and Alyssa Milano.

Some separate stories ultimately connect; there are those that satisfy with their simplicity and feelgood denouments, while others are just shallow and cloying rom-coms we’ve seen past the nth time. It still mostly amuses when you’re not distracted by the parade of celebs, and works quite well in giving a generally sentimental overview of the occasion.

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