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New Year’s Eve is the cinematic equivalent of the all-you-can-eat buffet. It features an ensemble cast that seems to have been put together to draw from the widest fan base possible. Which means Glee star Lea Michele, stand up comedian Russell Peters, basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire and Ryan Seacrest get to be in the same movie as Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Jessica Parker, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Jessica Biel, Zac Efron, Hillary Swank, Abigail Breslin, Josh Duhamel, Halle Berry, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Ludacris.

What kind of movie is it?

It is the type of movie in which Matthew Broderick plays a cameo as a big shot named Mr. Buellerton!

It is the type of movie where Alyssa Milano suddenly appears as a night nurse, James Belushi cameos as the guy repairing a broken elevator, the rapper Common enjoys a little screen-within-the-screen time as a soldier and the director Garry Marshall’s sister Penny has the opportunity to be rude to De Niro’s real life daughter Drena. Yup, it is a total friends and family type affair that tells inter-connected stories about a mother and daughter who disagree about how junior should spend New Year’s Eve; a woman who must do everything to ensure that the ball drops on schedule; a dying man who wants to watch the ball one last time; two duelling couples who want to have the first baby of the year at their hospital because that joyous moment arrives with a cash reward; a chef catering her biggest party; a rock star who is trying to win back the one who got away, and a grumpus who does not believe in the hoopla around New Year’s Eve who ends up stuck in an elevator with a girl who just moved into the building.

Did I miss anything? Probably. There were a lot of stories and I’m not entirely sure the filmmakers managed to cram all the right ones in.

New Year’s Eve is the type of movie that grabs those folk experiencing the year-end holiday spirit in all the right places. It is hopeful, it is cheerful and even when it is angry or despairing, it is so in a positive manner. So on some level it is totally out of touch with the real world. But then again, isn’t that a good thing? Don’t we go to the movies for a little air-conditioned escape?

And in that sense, New Year’s Eve delivers.

The city of New York (where the film is set) looks gorgeous. The movie hops from one story to the next often enough that you’re not allowed to settle down with the thought that this is all quite rote. Nobody really gets to spend enough time on screen for long enough for one to be judgmental about their performances–for good or bad. All I can say is that the songs sung in this movie are particularly bad. Which is a shame because this seemed like the type of setup which lent itself to a good old fashioned Bollywood-style song-and-dance. But those tunes just don’t catch.

Apart from that, this film will do. For playing Spot The Star. For arguing about which big name got the rawest deal in terms of bad lighting and unflattering angles.

Or just for a couple of hours of light entertainment.