Tim Roth plays the overly exuberant Bellhop, Ted who is left alone to tend to the needs of a group of eccentric and dangerous guests on New Years Eve.
Ted’s try hard energy (that of someone on their first night on the job) is irksome from the get go. His awkward body movements and facial expressions are so over zealous. I suppose it’s intended to amp up the comedic effect, but if anything, it dulls it due to the irritation factor.
So when researching films set on New Years Eve, I guess I was expecting something wild and ‘out there’, but nothing like the bizarre world created by four friends who directed a ‘segment’ of the film each.
On paper, it kind of sounds like it would work, what with the film being set in a hotel and therefore lending itself well to an episodic comedy anthology.
The four directors/writers
The beginning of the film is so promising, with the strange glamourous vibes of Madonna stunning in all black PVC and her witchy companions in the segment named: The Missing Ingredient. After Madonna gives Ted a tip straight from her cleavage, you know that it’s Madonna that we are supposed to fixated with.
The coven need to reverse an evil spell put upon the Goddess, Diana. The segment is nothing refreshing; It’s sexualization of witchcraft is over the top and basically misses the comedic mark for me. The ‘virgin’ of the group must find the missing ingredient for their spell which just so happens to be male bodily fluid. Who arrives to deliver room service but good ol’ Ted, who is roped into providing this to the witch – Raven. Kind of funny, not really.
The setting of the Hotel is essentially a great premise for a film. An idea explored so meticulously in the fifth season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Hotel – the idea that a different scene is occurring behind each door within a hotel and that different people pass through for different reasons.
There is in fact a direct correlation with the horror series, in the third segment ‘The Misbehaivers’. The two naughty children find a dead body inside the bed, under the mattress. Ryan Murphy may have been influenced by Four Rooms for his AHS season. Of course, the stark different is the segment in this film has a comedic underlay whereas AHS intends to shock and repulse.
This segment is the only one that hits the slapstick comedy notes for me. With Antonio Banderas playing an over exaggerated version of himself I guess? The scene just works so well. It’s got that Addam’s Family vibe of the nonchalant parents letting the kids wreak havoc – or merely unaware of the depths of their mischief.
The last segment: ‘The Man From Hollywood’ is just complete chaos, a display of wretched excess not dissimilar to ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ 2013. For reference, I thoroughly disliked that film so it’s not surprising that I didn’t enjoy this segment.
After Ted has provided the missing ingredient to the coven of witches, almost shot in the head by a jealous lover, babysat two brattish children, he now must deliver a set of specific items to a room full of powerful people in the film industry who are all very drunk and restless on new years eve. The group propose Ted a debauched bet that could lose him his pinky finger. In essence, a good plot for a short story that is just not executed as brilliantly as it could be. The script was a little too convoluted and chaotic for me too stick with.
With an odd sporadic use of post productions tools such as, split screen and awful kitch-y special effects during the witchy segment – the techniques of the film matched with the writing makes for a very sub-par anthology. It just sort of fell flat for the most part for me. I guess my expectations were a little too high, hoping to find a classic film that references New Years Eve that I would watch every year. It’s safe to say I won’t be indulging this film again.