Movie Monday: “New Year’s Eve” in wide release

A very sappy New Year’s Eve… but still fun

In New Year’s Eve, the wattage is high: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron (pictured), Halle Berry, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Swank and Michelle Pfeiffer join more than a dozen of their Hollywood colleagues in this quasi-sequel to director Garry Marshall’s previous celebfest, Valentine’s Day.

Like VD, NYE involves multiple story lines that converge in some way or another by the end of the movie — in this case, culminating around the stroke of midnight. Predictable themes of fresh starts and the letdown of holidays populate the various love stories and there are moments of genuine emotion and heartfelt humor.

For the entire review, click here.

DEETS: Rated PG-13. In wide release.

—  Rich Lopez

Auld lang sigh

A very sappy New Year’s Eve… but still fun

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There’s a long history of uniting big stars in a jam-packed ensemble cast. Sure, typically C-list celebrities met their fates in capsized ships and burning buildings, but there’s something about the combined star power of multiple marquee names that are irresistible draws.

In New Year’s Eve, the wattage is high: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron (pictured), Halle Berry, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Swank and Michelle Pfeiffer join more than a dozen of their Hollywood colleagues in this quasi-sequel to director Garry Marshall’s previous celebfest, Valentine’s Day. (By the time he gets to Cinco de Mayo, there’s gonna be nobody left but Charo, Justin Bieber and Cheech Marin.)

Like VD, NYE involves multiple story lines that converge in some way or another by the end of the movie — in this case, culminating around the stroke of midnight. Predictable themes of fresh starts and the letdown of holidays populate the various love stories and there are moments of genuine emotion and heartfelt humor.

There’s nothing blatantly gay about the film, but plenty of gay-by-association appeal thanks to LGBT faves Swank, Parker, Michele, Efron and too-hot-for-TV Josh Duhamel. Sofia Vergara, the buxom star of Modern Family, is a great foil to the increasingly unlikable Katherine Heigl, whose character never really clicks with the audience.

What’s great about New Year’s Eve is Marshall’s way of leveling the playing field among his regular stars and mega-stars. Everybody gets equal billing, equal screen time, and for the most part, equally fun roles. That any holiday film delivers cloyingly sweet dramedy should be anticipated from the moment you plop a twenty down at the ticket window, but it sure would be nice to be caught off-guard with just a single moment that is completely organic and unexpected.

Alas, most of the stories’ conclusions could be predicted by a 10-year-old, but there’s such an earnestness and joy in the actors’ performances paired with their gosh-darn eye twinkles and larger-than-life charisma that make this movie worth at least a Prosecco toast, if not a half-glass of real champagne.

— Steven Lindsey

Three and a half stars.
Now playing in wide release.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Leaner & meaner

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THE BITCH IS BACK | Lisa Lampanelli slimmed down, married up, adopted a dog and released an new DVD, ‘Tough Love,’ left. It’s almost enough to make her nice …. nah.

Insult comic Lisa Lampanelli loves the gays despite her slurs. And she thinks Bill Maher was right about Sarah Palin. Gotta love that

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Since she was last in Dallas almost two years ago, shock comic Lisa Lampanelli has become a changed person. She’s slimmer and no longer wears frilly petticoats. She settled down and married her boyfriend, and he’s — get this — not black. She’s adopted a Yorkshire terrier mix puppy. She appears on the way to blissful domesticity. In fact the last time we talked, she called me a “big dirty homo.” This time, she was nice.

All of which led us to wonder: Has Lisa Lampanelli gone soft?

No fuckin’ way.

In her latest comedy special, Tough Love, Lampanelli rails on the gays in her audience, calling them bun splitters, tush ticklers, fudge nudgers, semen demons and “David Archuletta.”

But the truth is, she is a softie — in her own way.

“I love the cornholers,” she says. “If you hate gays, get out — you’re not allowed to be my friend anymore. Without the gays, who would watch Bravo TV? Without the gays, who would run Bravo TV? Without the gays, who would say ‘Bravo!’?”

Screen shot 2011-04-28 at 3.54.09 PMBut married life — and quasi-parenthood (she adopted a puppy) — have brought out a different side to her.

“It’s hard to justify being ‘I was edgy and suddenly I’m transformed.’ But there’s enough crap that pisses me off every single day. What has softened me a little is we adopted this 7-lb. Yorkie. Jimmy brings him on stage and I turn into the biggest fag in the world. We named him Parker, after Sarah Jessica Parker because they’re both ugly-cute.”

One other thing: She’s beginning to develop a (gulp!) conscience.

“I don’t know what it is about aging, but I’ve begun to think, ‘Maybe I hurt her feelings —I hope not.’ I feel terrible if I make a joke about someone, like Sarah Jessica Parker, whose not an asshole but a really nice person.” She even met the Kardashians after mocking them for years, only to be charmed by them in person.

“They were so goddamn nice to me, it took me four years to work up the nerve to do jokes about them again,” she says.

Some celebs, though, she doesn’t worry about pissing off, as the closing “roast” on her comedy special will attest.

“I loved doing that,” Lampanelli says. “I had all these great jokes about all these idiots in the entertainment field — and I use that term loosely — that I would never get to do, so I just let loose.”

She had one of her most surreal experiences when she recently did The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump with Jersey Shore’s Mike “The Situation” Sorentino, whose routine was such a bomb, you could hear crickets chirping.

Lisa-Lampanelli140“Did you see that train wreck?” she squeals. “You thought it was painful for you guys to watch? Imagine being there. It wasn’t fun to watch. It’s weird to watch somebody bomb, even if you don’t like that person. But what is stupid about him is, he’s so delusional he comes up to me  after and says, ‘That went pretty well, right?’”

Lampanelli has been on the receiving end of barbs for herself, and she admits the jokes can get brutal.

“It’s always a struggle. You get made fun of for certain categories — they never say unfunny or dumb because I’m clearly funny and really smart. For me, it’s fat and ugly. They will be like ‘that fat cunt’ unless I am a size 6. My favorite one ever was when Artie Lange was at his obese, ugliest worst and he said, ‘Someone came up to me and said, ‘Aren’t you Lisa Lampanelli?’”

It’s one reason she has no sympathy for Sarah Palin when Bill Maher called her a cunt.

“People are so fucking stupid,” she says with the decorum that has made her a hit at christenings and golden wedding anniversaries. “Choice of words is the most ridiculous thing to attack when we have freedom of speech. I hate the Westboro Baptist Church, but letting them have GodHates Fags.com allows me to do what I do. And Sarah Palin is a cunt, by the way. I’m just sad I didn’t get in more trouble when I called her a ‘retard producer.’”

The reason Lampanelli’s acts works is because she’s an equal opportunity offender. And that only works when people laugh at themselves.

“Hispanics in general are very much more open with a sense of humor about themselves than other groups. Gays are great, of course. A few Asians will laugh it up at gay and black jokes and then I say ‘chink’ and they say, ‘No, that’s going too far.’ The jokes I get in trouble for are autism and retarded kid jokes. But people have come to me to say, ‘My kid is autistic; thanks for including us.’ It’s the least form of prejudice. If you’re gonna make fun of blacks, Asians and gays, you gotta laugh at everybody.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 29, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas