Oh dear, does it get more cheesy than that? You may think, well cheese never hurt anybody, especially during the holidays. You’d be right, the film is completely and utterly harmless, but it also kind of feels a bit patronising. The lack of soul and substance in this film is palpable. Samuel Johnson wrote that “the value of every story depends on it being true”. I don’t think Gary Marshall, the cast or the considerable amount of sponsors this film had believed there was any worldly truth in this story.
The cast features anyone that, one can guess, was available to make easy money: from multi-Academy award winners (Robert DeNiro and Hilary Swank) to pop stars (Ludacris and Jon Bon Jovi). However, none of them provide a good performance. Maybe because they couldn’t be bothered considering they were being payed a huge sum of money regardless, maybe because the corny writing didn’t allow them to, maybe because no one cared if they were good as long as they their names were printed at the top of the bill. In fact, the filmmakers know that we are watching fake, one dimensional characters. They just want us to remember that they are played by nice, fun-loving and playful celebrities, and to remind us of that: they added bloopers! – Arguably the best part of the movie… Certainly better than Hilary Swank’s cringeworthy speech on the real meaning of New Years Eve.
The whole movie, conveniently set for the most part in Time Square, is one big advertising billboard that audiences are invited to pay for. Few frames of New Years Eve don’t contain product or billboard placement. The cast were a bunch of endorsers, there only to encourage viewers to consume more during New Year’s Eve (one should not stop once Christmas is over!) and maybe also visit New York (cause New Year’s Eve is obviously ruined if one does not see the ball drop!) – and you know what, it probably worked on some level, because that year I went to New York, saw the darn ball and yeah I felt proud!
Picture to prove it? why certainly, and with more billboards!:
Unfortunately, for as long as there will be audiences for celebrities (not actors), there will be an audience for films like this one, so after Love Actually, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, we can probably look forward to Easter Monday, Mother’s Day and Secretary’s Day. Because in the end, isn’t every Hallmark holiday about forgetting all your troubles and being with your loved ones? (No, not consuming… Shut up at the back!)