The latest in a tide of seasonal ensemble films that play like Short Cuts or Magnolia for people with strong feelings about annual festivities, New Year's Eve insists that nothing ennobles the human spirit like partying all night. It is a tenaciously stupid movie, one where Lea Michele gets stuck in an elevator with Ashton Kutcher and berates him about hope and magic until he agrees to make out with her. I feel similarly shellacked: Barraged for 118 minutes with second chances and fresh starts, I am compelled to find at least one nice thing to say about every person in this movie. It will not be easy. This is a film populated almost exclusively by performers I loathe. But I resolve to try.
Hilary Swank: She is required to deliver several speeches that are basically a series of mawkish nouns strung together like refrigerator poetry, and she does not have a seizure or fall down or anything.
Halle Berry: A nurse, she sits by the bed of Old Dying Robert De Niro for most of the holiday, and does not flinch when he mistakes her for his ex-wife and smiles toothlessly at her.
Zac Efron: His character is supposed to be a callow douchebag, and he does this thing where he talks into his smartphone and shifts it squarely in front of his mouth each time he wants to emphasize a word, which is quite convincingly douchey.
Lea Michele: She is not stingy with the lip gloss.
Ashton Kutcher: He does not change out of pajama pants for the entire film, even when he gets out of the elevator and goes to Times Square, and I like to think he had this stipulated in his contract so that his day on set could be like every other day of his life.
Jessica Biel: Playing an expectant mother who is competing to deliver 2012's first baby, she is the centerpiece of a scene where a nurse yells, "May the best vajayjay win!" But nobody will hold this against her because no one will remember she was in this movie.
Michelle Pfeiffer: She looks fantastically sexy. Truth.
Josh Duhamel: Someone hands him a tiny bichon frisé to hold at a dinner party, and he neither drops it nor gets fur on his tuxedo.
Katherine Heigl: There actually are a lot of women in the world who are rigid and needy and inexplicably hostile, and I think she makes them feel better.
Jon Bon Jovi: He gets slapped in the face twice.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: At no time during his single scene in New Year's Eve does he pepper spray anybody.
The girl from Little Miss Sunshine: She is in another movie!
Sarah Jessica Parker: She is in another movie!
Old Dying Robert De Niro: He performs a meta-commentary on the trajectory of his career by playing a man who just wants to die as soon as possible. "What's the difference?" he asks. "Why delay the inevitable?" Which also nicely summarizes New Year's Eve. PG-13.
23 SEE IT: New Year's Eve opens Friday at Cedar Hills, Eastport, Cornelius, Oak Grove, Pioneer Place, Cinema 99, City Center, Division, Evergreen, Hilltop, Lloyd Center, Movies on TV, Tigard and Wilsonville.