Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
Shrek stars Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy have agreed to voice the sequel to last year's animation mega-blockbuster, according to Reuters. And while we'll most likely have to wait until 2004 to see the ogre, Princess Fiona and Donkey in Shrek 2, we've learned one thing from its $900 million predecessor: green ogres rake in the green stuff.
Walt Disney Pictures announced Thursday that its major holiday animation film Treasure Planet will be released simultaneously in 35mm and IMAX Theaters on Nov. 27. Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, this futuristic space adventure follows a boy pirate in search of the "loot of a thousand worlds." Emma Thompson, David Hyde Pierce and Martin Short will voice the characters.
Robert Redford's not the "Sundance Kid" for nothing. According to the Associated Press, Academy President Frank Pierson announced Friday that Redford, the actor/director/producer/creator of Sundance, will receive an honorary Oscar in March for having an "enormously positive impact on the motion picture industry" through his "dedication to independent filmmaking."
Speaking of "indie flicks," William Shatner and Harry Hamlin were in the Twin Cities Friday promoting their new low-budget flick, "Shoot or Be Shot," AP reports. Although this one probably won't get wide distribution, Hamlin said they took on the project because "we love the story, and we love the characters." (At least he's busy again; Hamlin's last notable role was on TV drama L.A. Law which ended in 1994).
Marisa Tomei and Ted Danson will announce the nominees for the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Tuesday, according to Ananova.com. The awards are given to both film and TV actors, and the winners will be announced March 10.
Mariah Carey may be back in the recording studio sooner than later. After a disappointing broken contract with EMI, the singer is rumored to be in negotiations with hip-hop label Def Jam, according to Sky News. Nothing has been finalized to date.
Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder are all set take part in Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee, a live concert honoring the queen's 50-year U.K. reign, Reuters reports. The BBC is scheduled to air the concert live June 3.
The Michael Jackson Internet Fan Club will be closing its doors Thursday, according to a message the MJIFC Team left on its site that read, "We are now ready to move on to other tasks in our lives." ABC News.com reports the site had been online for seven years.
PBS is celebrating 40 years of R&B classics in "Rhythm and Blues 40: A Soul Spectacular,'' Reuters reports. While no date is set, the artists highlighted will include the Isley Brothers, Percy Sledge, Eddie Holman, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes and others. Dionne Warwick will co-host the program with Jerry Butler and Sam Moore.
What's your favorite flavor? The Dave Matthews Band has a new one. It's called One Sweet Whirled, and it's named after their song "One Sweet World," according to MTV. Here's the scoop: it's one of several new Ben & Jerry's ice creams, combing coffee ice cream with caramel and marshmallow swirls.
Now for an '80s flashback. Pop band Bananarama will reunite at London's Astoria for a special 20th anniversary concert next month, Ananova.com reports. All three of the band's original members--Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey--will perform.
Playboy magazine is giving reality TV a shot, according to Sky News. Twelve contestants, who will be featured in the June issue of Playboy, will live with one another for two weeks while competing to become the July Playmate. Hugh Hefner will pick the winner for the show that's expected to be titled Who Wants To Be a Playboy Playmate?