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Short Takes New Year's Eve

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This is Garry Marshall's sort-of-sequel to last year's Valentine's Day, another film in which a bevy of A-minus/B-plus -list celebs fill out five or six somewhat interconnected sitcommish, para-dramedy plots premised very deliberately on the titular holiday and its goings-on. Someone's in charge of the Times Square ball-drop; another person is filling out life-long resolutions like a bucket list; a dying man wants to ring in the New Year one last time; mismatched tenants in a dumpy apartment have a meet-cute in a stuck elevator. You get the idea. It's a grueling two-hour yukfest aiming for the lowest common denominator. The audience I was with roared at exchanges like "A hatch! Climb up!" "Do I look like Spider-Man?" and scenes where a nervous dad-to-be ran out to the hospital, leaving his wife behind as her water broke on the sofa.

So I found myself pondering other things. How is it that Sofía Vergara has made a career out of being nothing but an outsized ethnic stereotype — the Charo of our age? Isn't it interesting that Robert De Niro, the one actor with real clout, spends most of his screen time playing semi-romantically opposite Halle Berry? (It's like he's out to personally disrupt the glaring whiteness of this film.) And what of the fact that the film's theme of forgiveness and second chances is repeatedly articulated by Hilary Swank, recently in the news for attending a private birthday bash for murderous Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov? No worries. You won't remember a thing in the morning. (Opens Friday)

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