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.
The actress has signed on to play Sister Jamison Connelly, a nun whose faith is tested when she agrees to sponsor a 19-year-old drug addict, in High.
The play, written by Matthew Lombardo, will be directed by Rob Ruggiero.
Turner's last Broadway appearance was her 2005 Tony-nominated role in the revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
High opens on 19 April (11) at New York City's Booth Theatre.
Her nod has come less than a month after the show closed in New York and Harper admits its a huge acknowledgement for the cast, director Rob Ruggiero and playwright Matthew Lombardo.
She tells WENN, "I can't say vindication but it's very, very sweet. I can't say bittersweet because we closed on April 11th, so I've had three weeks or so to sob and be upset... It kind of has solidified us in Broadway history even though the show closed early."
And Harper, who is now touring with the production, insists the show failed because an investor dropped out at the last minute.
She adds, "He dropped out to the tune of an excess of $500,000, so everybody else was trying to put in money. My husband contributed substantially and other investors stepped up, but I don't think we had enough publicity and enough advertising.
"The truth is you have to clear at least $800,000 a week. We were underfunded."
But the actress' Tony Awards nomination has given the play a new life as it tours America: "I'm gonna keep playing it in other cities. It's not over yet by any means."