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20100226_garry-newyears-lede_560x375“New Year’s Eve” isn’t so much a movie as it is a cavalcade of familiar names in situations geared to make you understand why everybody hates December 31st.

This mishmash of easy sentiment, romance, illness, musical numbers, product placement—Disaronno anyone?—tradition and a version of “I Can’t Turn You Loose” that makes the kids from Glee sound like Otis Redding, flip flops from story to story so often it’s like a five-year-old grabbed the remote and is wildly channel surfing.

There’s Robert De Niro as a terminally ill man; Halle Berry as his kindly nurse. Then there’s Michelle Pfeiffer as a dowdy “executive secretary who decides to tackle her unfulfilled resolutions,” and Zac Efron as the courier who makes her reams come true. Hillary Swank is the acrophobic producer of the Times Square New Year’s Eve show, Katherine Heigl and Jon Bon Jovi are a caterer and a rock star with a romantic history, Ashton Kutcher as a curmudgeonly cartoonist who gets trapped in an elevator with back-up singer Lea Michelle and even Ryan Seacrest pops up playing—who else?—himself.

Have I left anyone out? Probably, there are more stars here than in the heavens, but rest assured, by the end of the movie stories have woven together and no hearts are broken.

Like its predecessor “Valentine’s Day'” “New Year’s Eve” takes a bunch of stars with little or no box office cache on their own—Zac Efron, Jessica Biel—and packages them into one large, over-stuffed package that somehow, in terms of star power, is bigger than the sum of its parts. To quote the movie, “there’s more celebrities here than rehab.”

Too bad they are wasted in a movie that is little more than a collection of clichés salvaged from every romantic comedy, Hallmark holiday special and sitcom you’ve ever seen. From its generic opening song played over generic shots of New York City, every moment of “New Year’s Eve” inspires déjà vu, the feeling of been there and done that.

There are Walmart commercials with more real emotion than director Gary Marshall manages to bring to this manipulative mess. His idea of romance is Josh Duhamel doing the rom com run through the streets of New York as the ball drops in Times Square. His idea of humor is old people saying inappropriate things and by the time Mayor Bloomberg kicks off the New Year’s Eve countdown with the words, “Let’s drop the ball,” its already abundantly clear that Marshall already dropped the ball with this movie.

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