Directed by Garry Marshall
December 9, 2011
New Year’s Eve is the story of intertwining and intersecting lives and loves on one fateful New Year’s Eve.
I did not think I would like this movie, but it was actually very good. It had plenty of funny moments and was very sweet and at times sad. It knew how to pull on your heart strings and where to place the jokes.
The stories interweave here with the holiday being framed as a magical day. Some characters know each other, and some happen to just cross paths during the course of everything. None of it really smacks you in the face though as feeling forced or highly improbable. It is handled in a very smooth fashion much in the same way it was done in Love Actually.
The cast is quite expansive and honestly some of the people that show up in it are doing little more than cameos. And that is just fine. This is a light film, and these people are just doing something to have a little fun I guess. But nobody is a slouch here. Even the smallest appearance is good.
There are several stories here so I will touch on them all.
Efron plays a bike messenger named Paul who is hired by timid and reserved Ingrid Withers (Michelle Pfeiffer) to complete a list of New Year’s resolutions which she had started completing by quitting her job at Ahern Records after one too many times of being treated like crap by her boss Jonathan Cox (John Lithgow) towards the start of the film.
I must start with the Zac Efron story and Efron himself. Nothing against him but it felt like that whole High School Musical thing was shoved down my throat everywhere I looked and honestly my dislike of him stems in large part from that. However, he does a very good job in this story with Michelle Pfeiffer. They have solid chemistry together.
He is charming as a cooler than cool Paul that at first takes this task to help Ingrid complete her resolutions solely for the free tickets to the hot party before taking it as his own personal mission. He watches as Ingrid experiences joy and she actually lives a little and helping her becomes important to him.
Resolution Tour is a sweet story about a woman coming out of her shell. An effective enough and enjoyable story.
Tess (Jessica Biel) and Griffin Byrne (Seth Meyers) are a young couple at a hospital trying to have their child on New Year’s first to get a $25,000 prize. They are in competition with Grace (Sarah Paulson) and James (Til Schweiger) Schwab who are vying for to same cash prize.
This goes for the silly in how competitive they get. But it is funny and entertaining though I draw issue with the resolution. It felt a bit on the contrived side but given the type of movie this is I almost expected it. The moment that points to the resolution hits harder than Negan’s bat to your face.
Maternity Ward is a ridiculous competition story with a ludicrous contest that ends on a sweet, even if a bit contrived, note.
Also in that same hospital is Stan Harris (Robert De Niro) who is dying of cancer and being tended to by Nurse Aimee (Halle Berry). Stan’s final wish is to view the ball drop from the hospital rooftop (the reason he chose the facility) but is denied by his doctor (Cary Elwes) based on policy.
Hospital Story is a sweet and sad story about a regretful man at the end of his life who too late understands he has pushed everyone that he should have kept close away. Stories about death provide opportunities for good drama that too often get wasted by the players but Berry and De Niro being good actors do a fantastic job. There are no real set changes with most of the story taking place in Stan’s room.
Hospital Story made me tear up a bit. It was well acted and a bit sentimental. I liked this one the best.
Claire Morgan (Hilary Swank), Stan’s daughter, is Vice-President of the Times Square Alliance and organizing the ball drop. She is nursemaided through her issues by Lieutenant Brendan Nolan (Ludacris) to the point he even has an officer to carry this acrophobic woman up the steps to the ball.
Time’s Square is a story built around the worst possible problem happening but done with humor and heart. The story is about someone confronting her fears and the shadows of the past as at the end of her story she seeks out her father and spends his final moments with him. I admit to crying here.
Time’s Square is a good resolution to Hospital Story as well as being a good tale about the worst case scenario.
Jensen & Laura’s Story
Singing superstar Daniel Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi), simply known as “Jensen,” is not only performing at the ball drop but also at the Ahern Records party that is being catered by his ex-girlfriend Laura (Katherine Heigl) whom he had run scared from. Apparently he is afraid of commitment and she is rather pissed at him.
This segment is about as cliché as you get and is more than a bit like something from Lifetime or Hallmark. Laura fights her feelings, but they make amends by the end.
Originally Halle Berry was to play Laura by had to drop out to deal with custody issues. Once that was cleared the part had already gone to Heigl. I am not sure her casting could have helped this part of the movie. It goes through all the motions and tropes of a low-grade Lifetime film.
Jensen & Laura’s Story is not bad, but it is not great either. Just so-so.
Josh Duhamel is Sam Ahern, Jr. who is the son of the late head of Ahern Records and is on his way to speak at the company party after attending a friend’s wedding after which he hopes to reconnect with a mysterious woman he met the previous year. Unfortunately a car accident puts that in doubt as he struggles to not only get to the party but to reconnect with the woman.
If you think about the plot of Ahern Party too much though you will find it a bit pathetic that this guy kept thinking about a woman he only interacted with for a few hours at best one year prior that never even told him his name. How interested could she really be if she never even gave him contact info or a name but left him with a note saying to meet him there next year? He should have tossed the napkin and hooked up with one of the women throwing themselves at him while at the party.
The real joy in this story are the interactions Sam has with the preacher’s (Sean O’Brien) family and even the tow truck driver played by the hilarious Larry Miller. They are either purposely awkward or just ridiculously nosey. That helps to make it one of the better segments.
I just find the plot of Ahern Party bad. What is wrong with Sam that he is pinning so much hope on a napkin note?
Mother & Daughter
Kim Doyle (Sarah Jessica Parker) is that mysterious woman that Sam has been thinking about who is dealing with a slightly rebellious daughter in Hailey (Abigail Breslin) seeking to have a magical moment in Times Square.
Not much here. I felt this was rather forgettable. Nothing especially good or bad really jumps out at me here. I would love to comment, and I got nothing. And maybe that is my comment: it was completely forgettable.
Ashton Kutcher stars as Randy who is down on the holiday. While using his building’s elevator he gets trapped in there with Elise (Lea Michele) who is on her way to perform as a backup singer for Jensen at the ball drop.
Kutcher is an actor built for romcoms. He has a delivery and presence that makes the overly down on New Year’s Eve Randy work. He and Michele have a chemistry that makes you buy in to the two opposites coming closer.
Elevator was an enjoyable story, and the resolution was appropriate and uplifting and provided a nice way to wrap up completely all the others.
We have a few cameos such as James Belushi showing up as the building super that “saves” Randy and Elise. Matthew Broderick cameos as Mr. Buellerton (see what they did there?) who is the president of the Times Square Alliance. Alyssa Milano shows up as Nurse Mindy. Common shows up as Nurse Aimee’s soldier husband during a video chat. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Ryan Seacrest both appear as themselves. And this is among many others that appear in this movie.
What is interesting to me is that not all the connections in the film are abruptly clear. Director Garry Marshall does not spoon-feed you everything right away. He lays it out during the course of the story as needed. I like that because it added to the surprise and helped invest me in the film.
Marshall created a romantic comedy that makes you laugh and pulls at your heartstrings at all the right moments. The movie is sappy and that is why you go to see something like this. People complain about the sappiness but are they forgetting this is a romcom? It makes you happy and makes you smile, and you feel a little bit warm inside after watching it. You get the feels here.
New Year’s Eve is flawed film that still manages to be a good watch. Get someone you care about and watch it!