Now playing: ‘New Year’s Eve’: Join the party if you dare

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Andy Bockelman is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and his movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press.

Now playing:

“New Year’s Eve”

2.5 out of 4 stars

118 minutes

Starring: Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi and Abigail Breslin

Now playing at West Theatre in Craig and Carmike Chief Plaza 4 in Steamboat Springs.

If noisemakers, party hats and glasses shaped like numbers aren’t your thing, “New Year’s Eve” likely isn’t your flick.

But, if you like all those in addition to half the stars in Hollywood packed into one feature, you’ve found yourself a new holiday favorite.

Around the world, people are preparing to say farewell to 2011. However, if you want to do it up right, the only place to be is in The Big Apple, preferably in Times Square for the biggest party of all.

Responsible for these festivities — and most importantly the ceremonial ball drop — is Claire (Hilary Swank), whose dedication to pulling everything together is nothing short of heroic. Making sure everything is perfect on the last night of the year is a common theme among the people of New York, many of whom have a lot in mind before the year is through.

Unhappy secretary Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) has made out a list of New Year’s resolutions to complete before ringing in 2012, and with the help of streetwise delivery boy Paul (Zac Efron), she might have the chance to make some magic happen.

Paul’s teenage niece, Hailey (Abigail Breslin), has her own agenda of making it to Times Square in time for a wondrous moment, but not if her overprotective mother (Sarah Jessica Parker) has anything to say about it.

Likewise, expectant couple Griffin and Tess (Seth Meyers, Jessica Biel) are keeping their fingers crossed in the hopes of giving birth to the first baby of the year, even if it means competing against another set of parents-to-be (Til Schweiger, Sarah Paulson).

In another hospital bed lies Stan (Robert De Niro), a terminally ill man whose only desire is to live to the end of the year.

With no single lead in this ensemble cast, it’s tough to pick out the cream of the crop, especially with characters who are so stiffly written.

Swank has some of the best moments coping with the various technical disarray that comes along with her job, having to grovel to a freshly fired electrician (Hector Elizondo) in order to get everything off the ground.

Such mechanical issues are occurring all over New York, with an apartment elevator stuck between floors, trapping New Year’s miser Randy (Ashton Kutcher) with optimistic chanteuse Elise (Lea Michele). “Glee” star Michele is pleasant enough in her film debut, but Kutcher is quite lame as a guy who loathes Dec. 31 and all it stands for.

It would be interesting to see him swap roles with Efron, who may be the weakest actor in the movie, trying to show his boss for the day — a perfectly capable Pfeiffer — the time of her life.

Katherine Heigl shows some spark as a caterer for a huge music industry party, who reluctantly gets snared into trying to take back her rock star ex (Jon Bon Jovi), who’s playing the main event in Manhattan.

But, if she doesn’t want him, her sous-chef (Sofia Vergara) will gladly take him off her hands.

Love complications are many across the five boroughs, with Breslin good as the girl hoping to share a kiss with her crush (Jake T. Austin) from history class.

Seeking out something a little more life-changing is Josh Duhamel as a businessman who has to hitch a ride into the city to rendezvous with the woman he met one year ago hence.

For a movie about a holiday that’s really not about anything other than the last day on the calendar, director Garry Marshall works awfully hard to convince us the night in question actually means something.

Clean slate, second chances, anything can happen, blah-blah-blah, although it does sound better when Claire is making a speech to that effect.

But, can we really trust somebody whose job includes making sure confetti is thrown off the roof in just the right way?

For that matter, her concern about the ball dropping is almost childish. If the big hunk of metal and lights doesn’t slide down a pole starting at 11:59 p.m., does that mean it’ll stay 2011 forever?

Just like Marshall’s “Valentine’s Day,” it’s all about flash within the story, leaving the actors to make us care about what’s going on. Someone like De Niro can get us involved in his sleep, but not everyone in the cast is able to do it so effortlessly.

Meyers’ scheming to win $25,000 to accompany the birth of his child is about as repugnant as it sounds, showing just what kind of spirit comes out in people these days.

Still, not all these vignettes are tinged with such unpleasantness, with each sub-story wrapping up by the stroke of midnight. Just like any party you go to on this particular night, as long as things are settled by the first few moments of Jan. 1, you can call it a success.

Just like the Los Angeles-set “Valentine’s Day,” “New Year’s Eve” isn’t going to make a believer out of cynics, reserved strictly for the crowds who want to be part of the fun in New York City.

Still, let’s hope this is the last of Marshall’s holiday series because it could open the door to some terrible efforts. Imagine “Cinco de Mayo” set in Houston, “St. Patrick’s Day” in Boston, or even “Mardi Gras” in New Orleans.

Then again, that last one could have something going for it.

Now playing at West Theatre in Craig and Carmike Chief Plaza 4 in Steamboat Springs.

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