Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: New Year's Eve Drops the Ball

Plus, The Sitter is crass and only occasionally funny.

by | December 8, 2011 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a star-studded celebration (New Year’s Eve, starring Hilary Swank and Halle Berry), and adventures in babysitting (The Sitter, starring Jonah Hill and Ari Graynor). What do the critics have to say?

New Year’s Eve


Director Garry Marshall certainly has a yen for celebrity-populated, holiday-centric comedies, but critics say his latest, New Year’s Eve, is even weaker than the thematically similar (and critically panned) Valentine’s Day, stranding a terrific cast in a thinly plotted, schmaltzy confection. As the title suggests, it’s Dec. 31, and a disparate group of New Yorkers (including Hilary Swank, Halle Berry, Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, and Zac Efron) are looking for love and/or redemption while waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square. The pundits say New Year’s Eve is predictable and sappy, leaving its all-star cast to do what it can with their slightly-realized characters. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down other memorable New Year’s Eve movies.)

The Sitter


In theory, an irresponsible babysitter and his bratty charges embarking on a precarious journey through the big city could be a recipe for hilarity, but critics say The Sitter only occasionally lives up to its promise, with crass humor and undisciplined plotting outweighing moments of bizarre wit. Jonah Hill stars as Noah, a suburban slacker who grudgingly agrees to look after some neighborhood kids while his mother goes on a date. However, when Noah’s sometime girlfriend makes an urgent call to him, he piles the kids into the car and heads into town, where many odd interactions ensue. The pundits say The Sitter has a few gleefully profane gags, but mostly, it traffics in crude, misanthropic jokes and suffers from slack pacing.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Gary Oldman and Colin Firth in an adaptation of John Le Carré’s espionage thriller about a disgraced former spy who’s covertly tasked with finding a mole within MI-6, is Certified Fresh at 91 percent.
  • Knuckle, a documentary about the secret world of nomadic Irish bare-knuckle fighters, is at 93 percent.
  • London River, a drama about an unlikely duo that joins forces to search for their children after the 2005 London terrorist bombings, is at 88 percent.
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin, starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly in a psychological thriller about a woman’s tenuous relationship with her violent son, is Certified Fresh at 84 percent.
  • Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt in a comedy about a woman who returns to her hometown and forms a bond with a guy she treated badly in high school, is at 80 percent.
  • Seducing Charlie Barker, a comedy about a struggling actor who cheats on his wife with a woman that’s more trouble than she’s worth, is at 63 percent.
  • My Piece of the Pie, a French dramedy about a single mother who takes a cleaning job with the financial worker who helped shut down the factory where she once worked, is at 57 percent.
  • The French import Goodbye First Love, a drama about a young woman still profoundly affected by a teenage romance, is at 50 percent.
  • W.E., starring Abbie Cornish and James D’Arcy in Madonna‘s biopic of American Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson, is at 29 percent.
  • I Melt with You, starring Thomas Jane and Rob Lowe in a drama about four former college buddies who try to stave off their midlife crises during a wild weeklong getaway, is at 12 percent.

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