December 9th, 2011 in Reviews by 2 Comments

New Year’s Eve, directed by Garry Marshall, is billed as a romantic comedy with a large ensemble cast whose lives all intertwine to tell the story of one New Year’s Eve. Truth be told, it is so much more than that.

There is romance, there is comedy and there are more celebrities than you can shake a stick at but what there also is, is a slice of life look at a real life phenomenon; the ending of one year and the beginning of a new one and what that can mean, really mean in a person’s life.

Claire Morgan (Hilary Swank), Vice President of the Time Square Alliance, who is responsible for dropping the ball at midnight, summed it up best when she said, “New Year’s is a time to stop and reflect on our triumphs and missteps, promises made both kept and broken. It is an opportunity for new chances, to do more, give more, love more…” Granted she said this in the middle of a PR nightmare and was trying to save her job but there was also sincerity in her eye, a tone in her voice that forces the audience to pay attention to what she is saying.

Randy (Ashton Kutcher) and Elise (Lea Michele) are polar opposites who are trapped in an elevator. Randy is anti-New Year’s Grinch with nowhere to be and Elise is an upbeat back up singer who has somewhere to be. They do the sardonic “getting to know you even though I don’t initially like you” dance but it really works due to the great chemistry between Kutcher and Michele, as well as the stunning form fitting red dress she is wearing that must have been signed by God himself. The audience can really relate to these characters because they truly represent both ends of the spectrum regarding how people feel about New Year’s Eve. They also give hope to those who dream about meeting someone under mysteriously romantic circumstances.

One thing that we get cheated out of is our dose of crazy Katherine Heigl. Laura Carrington (Heigl) is a Chef who is catering the Ahern party which is the social event of the evening. She also happens to be the ex-fiancé of Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) who is performing at the party. Laura’s reunion with Jensen is pretty tame compared to the standards of craziness we are used to seeing by Heigl. Jon Bon Jovi actually does a good job of playing the remorseful ex trying to win back the heart of the woman he loves and mistakenly left. All the while the comic relief is provided by Laura’s Sous Chef Ava (Sofia Vergara) with her broken English, misused words and phrases and her girl-like crush on Jensen. She travels effortlessly between star struck fan and best friend. This storyline appeals to those who have loved and lost someone but hope for a second chance.

We do get our odd couple pairing of the young and obnoxiously charming bike messenger Paul (Zac Efron) and older corporate secretary Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer). Ingrid is extremely disenchanted with life and enlists Paul’s help to make all of her resolutions come true. This storyline appeals to those of us who may be feeling a bit older than we would like by showing us that it is never too late to chase your dreams.

Then there is Sam (Josh Duhamel), a rich and successful business man who desperately needs to get back into Manhattan for his company’s party where he is expected to give a speech. We learn that he has hopes as well of meeting a mystery woman who he met the previous new year’s eve. To do so he has to hitch a ride with a pastor and his family who grill him about the details of his life along the ride and encourage him to chase his dreams. This message is especially true in this day and age where everyone is so busy with work and smart phones and electronically engaged, it reminds us that we have a heart and we sometimes need to follow it.

Some of the story lines are just a little flat and never really get fully developed, which shouldn’t come as a surprise with such a huge ensemble cast, even though the movie is just about two hours long. Sarah Jessica Parker plays Kim, a mother who is so focused on protecting her 15 year old daughter Hailey (Abigail Breslin) from growing up that she forgets to live her own life. Sure, we get a couple of “I hate you mom” moments and some decent quips about Kim needing to update her shoes (from boring clogs) but this storyline deserved more camera time since a lot of people can relate to this out there, either from the parent side or the child side.

Some of the storylines were just about perfect with their level of screen time. The baby competition (1st baby born at the hospital earns its parents $25,000) between Griffin and Tess Byrne (Seth Meyers and Jessica Biels) and Grace (Sarah Paulson) and James Schwab (Til Schweiger) was hysterical. Seth Myers really shined comedically but Biels, Paulson and Schweiger were right there with him.

Robert DeNiro was brilliant as always as Stan Harris, an old man who is dying and most likely won’t even make it to the New Year and wants nothing more than to see the ball drop from the roof of the hospital. Despite this being his dying request, hospital rules won’t allow it and his doctor specifically forbade it. This really teaches us the lesson that we have to try and take care of as much as we can while we can because there comes a point where it will be too late.

There were so many small roles and cameos it was a little difficult to keep up with! Ludacris plays a cop who never does anything resembling police work when he really is Claire’s emotional support. Larry Miller plays a tow truck operator who shows off his comic brilliance with very little screen time. Halle Berry play’s Stan’s nurse but her performance was uninspired and her presence honestly added very little to the film. Common makes an appearance, via Skype as Berry’s soldier husband. Unfortunately, like his name, his performance was common and his chemistry with Berry was non existent and quite frankly a waste of time and a decent plot point. There were people in it that I barely even/didn’t recognize who they were like Cary Elwes (Stan’s doctor), Joey McIntyre (groom Rory) and Alyssa Milano (hospital nurse).

This movie is very cheesy and some of the characters’ lives intertwining was a tad too convenient and forced. However, this movie is filled with tremendous heart and a spectrum of emotions and Marshall does an excellent job of capturing just what New Year’s Eve is all about. You should definitely go see this movie and if possible, take someone you care about with you. If you don’t have someone special to take, that’s ok, you never know who you might meet at the theater!

Author: Mike D


Liz Parker - 12/9/2011

Mike D, I think you secretly like “chick flicks” … lol. I am a fan of Valentine’s Day, the “predecessor” to this movie in a way, but I thought that this one was not as good (check out my review, I’ll post it in the forums). The baby competition was pretty funny, though, I will admit.

Mike D - 12/9/2011

I think by now the secret is out Liz, lol. My record is pretty clear bythis point 🙂 I actually never saw “Valentine’s Day” and honestly went into NYE expecting not to think very highly of it.

One of the things I enjoyed about the baby competition was seeing Seth Myers go against Sarah Paulson comedically since he is on SNL and she was on “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” which was about the production of an SNL type show.

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