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.
In addition to being passionate about how getting divorced from her husband of 8 years has made her a better person, Olivia Wilde is very active in numerous charities. One of them is the organization Artists For Peace and Justice, which works in Haiti to support doctor and community organizer Father Rich Frechette, who has spend the past 22 years overseeing a pediatric hospital in Port au Prince, an orphanage, elementary schools, and a facility that works with special needs children. Wilde became involved with the organization when she visited Haiti after the massive earthquake hit the island on January 24th, 2010, and the devastation she described motivated her to help with the charity's fundraising efforts.
This has proved to be a two pronged endeavor for Wilde, as while she's working to promote the APJ, she's also launched a more personal campaign to get the media to stop focusing on the unimportant things like new celebrity couples and instead, to pay attention to more pressing matters, like the suffering that is still taking place in Haiti and in other countries around the world. In the most recent issue of Marie Claire, she said "I'd like to refocus everyone's attention away from the Kardashians and onto Doctors Without Borders or aid workers. Let's redefine scandal. Scandal is not who so-and-so is dating; scandal is the fact that 1.2 million people are still living in tents in Haiti, and cholera is rampant because Nepalese U.N. soldiers dumped s**t from their Porta-Potties (portable toilets) into the river. That's a f******g scandal. If the average 15 year old was hearing about that instead of so-and-so's plastic surgery or cheating in Hollywood, I'd feel better about our future."
Obviously Wilde is entirely right in insisting the media needs to reconfigure its priorities, but until TMZ starts sending its photographers to Haiti and to document the extensive human suffering instead of staking them outside of Halle Berry's house and trying to help the Los Angeles Police Department catch the man who keeps jumping over the wall that surrounds her house, we're just not quite there yet.
Sources: ONTD, HuffPo