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.
We don't know what's stranger: Adam Sandler doing a P.T. Anderson-type movie, or P.T. Anderson doing an Adam Sandler-type film.
Either way, the synergy might just happen. Daily Variety says today that the "Little Nicky" supercomic is fielding opportunities for his next project, and one of them is a script which "Magnolia" helmer Anderson specifically wrote with Sandler and actress Emily Watson in mind.
But competing for Sandler's attention right now is another comedy penned by his writing partner, Tim Herlihy. And the funnyman's involvement with either project is likely contingent upon the anticipated actors and writers strike next summer.
But in the meantime, Sandler's latest comedy, "Little Nicky," opens this Friday.
BACK TO 'BASIC': Maybe he is just trying desperately to expand his oeuvre, but sci-fi director David Cronenberg, who has brought us head-scratching tales such as "Naked Lunch," "Videodrome" and "eXistenZ," is apparently eyeing to direct "Basic Instinct 2," Variety reports. Most known for the interrogation scene wherein actress Sharon Stone crosses her legs, the first "Basic Instinct" was directed by Paul Verhoeven in 1992. And as reported earlier in the year, Stone will reprise her role as ice pick killer Catherine Trammell in the sequel.
SIZING UP: Smells like high testosterone. The Hollywood Reporter says that Tom Sizemore might star in "Black Hawk Down" to be directed by Ridley Scott and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Variety says that the war flick is about a group of U.S. soldiers dispatched to Somalia for a mission.
MORE SIZEMORE: Variety also says that Sizemore is concurrently in talks to play gangster Al Capone in "The Road to Perdition" for Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes ("American Beauty").
PLAYING WITH THE BIG KIDS: "Roseanne" alum Johnny Galecki will join big guns Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Jason Lee in the thriller "Vanilla Sky," Variety says. The film will be helmer Cameron Crowe's follow-up to his critically fave "Almost Famous."
X MAN: Denzel Washington did it once for Spike Lee, and now Mario Van Peebles will do it again for Michael Mann. According to Variety, Van Peebles will come on board the "Ali" biopic as black leader Malcolm X.