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.
Uma Thurman cried and shook with terror after Jack Jordan tried to force his way into her movie-set trailer, the actress' wardrobe assistant testified on the first day of the alleged stalker's trial on Monday.
Joseph La Corte told the jury at New York's Manhattan Supreme Court how two minders had to block Jordan, and how Thurman was left hysterical by the episode in November 2005.
He said, "Her hands were shaking, she was soaked (from tears). She couldn't sit still."
Thurman's former personal assistant Lisa Grondin also revealed how the trauma caused her to take up smoking again.
Jordan is also accused of sending letters and notes to Thurman while she shot My Super Ex-Girlfriend in the city--in one, threatening to kill himself is she didn't date him. Another read, "My hands should be on your body at all times."
After pleading not guilty to misdemeanor stalking, aggravated harassment and felony coercion, Jordan's lawyer contended that his letters were not illegal, telling the court, "(Jordan) does not think the way you and I think. He doesn't know the boundaries you and I know. He thinks it's romantic."
Thurman is scheduled to testify on Tuesday. The case continues.
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