Sarah Jessica Parker. Ashton Kutcher. Halle Berry. Hilary Swank. Zac Efron. Robert De Niro. Jessica Biel. Katherine Heigl. Jon Bon Jovi. Sofia Vergara. Michelle Pfeiffer. What do all of these celebs have in common? They're all jammed into 'New Year's Eve,' the latest movie to stuff as many stars as humanly possible onto the screen.
This isn't the first time Hollywood has corralled a hefty helping of stars into one flick. It's a pretty safe strategy when it comes to luring people to the theaters; after all, there are plenty of folks out there to go to the movies to see, well, stars. And 'New Year's Eve' seems to have someone for everyone: Heigl and Bon Jovi for the rom-com fans, SJP for the moms, Lea Michele for the Gleeks and Efron for the teenage girls.
Unfortunately, too many stars can often come at the expense of a decent plot. Watching 'New Year's Eve,' for instance, feels a lot like watching clips from eight different movies all spliced together ... with the occasional overlap, of course. It also seems as though casting stars took priority over casting actors who were appropriate for the roles they were cast in. It's really tough to buy Lea Michele and Ashton Kutcher as an item -- no matter how cozy they've been acting together on the red carpets lately to promote this flick. 'New Year's Eve' features one other incredibly unbelievable pairing, but to tell you who the unlikely duo is would be giving too much away. As much as I hate unrealistic casting, I hate jerks who spoiler movies even more.
Gallery | Too Many Stars: Hits and Misses
Miss: 'New Year's Eve'
It's a good thing all of the faces in 'New Year's Eve' are familiar. We wouldn't have been able to keep up with the flurry of competing storylines (and who's who, for that matter) otherwise. More screen time for the hilarious Sofia Vergara would have helped this movie -- a lot.
Hit: 'Love, Actually'
'Love, Actually' should be the model for how to do a film with multiple interrelated storylines. Sure, it has a lot of different stories to keep up with, with a bunch of big names like Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson and Alan Rickman jockeying for attention. But the stories are each properly fleshed out and beautifully interwoven, allowing the audience to become invested in all of the intersecting tales.
Miss: 'He's Just Not That Into You'
We're just not that into having so many stars jostling for screen time. Just when you’re getting invested in the Jennifer Connelly/Bradley Cooper storyline, the movie jumps over to catch up with Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck’s troubled relationship. The result is a bunch of characters you don't reallllly care about (with the exception of the adorable Ginnifer Goodwin, who anchors the flick).
Even though 'Crash' boasts an array of stars ranging from Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon and Thandie Newton to Tony Danza and Brendan Fraser, the star power doesn't distract us from the compelling intersecting storylines.
We really thought this one could work. Even though it's packed with stars, they're talented A-listers who can actually act and/or sing, like Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard. Unfortunately, the movie winds up being a bit too busy. A-lister overload!
Hit: 'Ocean's Eleven'
When it comes to star power, it's hard to beat this line-up that includes Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. Yet the movie works, since all of the big names are focused on one, big over-arching goal that pulls the whole movie together: the big score.
Miss: 'Ocean's Twelve'
The big screen just isn't big enough for Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones. While 'Ocean's Eleven' undeniably boasts mega-star power, it had just the right amount. Its successor, however, tipped that delicate balance with the addition of Zeta-Jones and Bruce Willis, when it diverted attention away from the core characters.
'Contagion' doesn't lack A-list talent with the likes of Kate Winslet, Matt Damon and Jude Law on board. It's fast-paced and jumps quickly from one character to the next, but it doesn't feel jumpy, since all of the characters are focused on the film’s primary plot-point: battling the mysterious outbreak.
Miss: 'Valentine's Day'
Oh, 'Valentine’s Day.' I think we have you to blame for 'New Year’s Eve.' Despite the jerky, lackluster plot, it performed well at the box office. We suppose people just like seeing big names like Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Garner on the big screen. Which means there will probably be another one next year, too. 'Thanksgiving Weekend,' anyone?
Sometimes, however, having plenty of stars does work. Case in point: 'Ocean's Eleven.' The ensemble cast included Hollywood heavyweights like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. But thanks to their great chemistry and a strong script, the star overload didn't detract from the movie. Every character had an important role to play in the script's overarching plotline: the heist. It didn't feel like any of the characters had extraneous scenes just to fit in more screen time for one of the megastars.
When the stars align and the celeb-studded movies work, it can be a beautiful thing. When it doesn't work, things can get pretty confusing with too many sub-plots going on to justify jamming all of those big names onto the poster. We've compiled a gallery highlighting some of the most memorable flicks that are bursting with stars in recent memory -- the good, the bad and the downright ugly.
[Photos: Warner Bros.]
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