New Year’s Eve

NEW YEAR’S EVE directed by Garry Marshall, written by Katherine Fugate, with Zac Efron, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Swank and Michelle Pfeiffer. A Warner Bros. release. 117 minutes. Opens Friday (December 9). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: N


At this point, you either like what Garry Marshall does or you don’t.

Either you enjoy watching all the famous pretty people run around falling in love and finding fulfillment in sitcommy circumstances or you sit there wondering why people keep going to see movies that are openly contemptuous of them.

Like Marshall’s last ensemble piece, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve is strictly by the numbers, a generic exercise in empty momentum that follows various slick hipsters, lovelorn singletons and overprotective parents around New York City over the course of the eponymous holiday. But there’s no wit or charm in Katherine Fugate’s schematic screenplay, and Marshall asks nothing of his cast beyond saying their lines while staying in focus.

Sure, you can amuse yourself by counting the Oscars won elsewhere by the cast – Robert De Niro and Hilary Swank each have two, Halle Berry has one, Michelle Pfeiffer’s been nominated three times – but that’ll just depress you, as will the sight of Russell Peters reduced to a stereotypical sidekick. It’s just about pandering to the lowest common denominator, which also explains the blatant ads for Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows and the Valentine’s Day Blu-ray and DVD that elbow their way into the final moments.

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