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Movie Review

New Year's Eve

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language including some sexual references.

Reviewed by: Laura Busch

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Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Romance Comedy
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 9, 2011 (wide—3,300+ theaters)
DVD: May 1, 2012
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TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Katherine HeiglLaura Carrington
Robert De NiroHarry
Ashton KutcherRandy
Zac EfronPaul
Abigail BreslinHailey
Carla Gugino
Jessica BielTess
Josh Duhamel … Sam
Sarah Jessica ParkerKate
Michelle PfeifferIngrid
Hilary SwankClaire Morgan
Halle Berry
John LithgowMr. Cox
more »
Director: Garry Marshall—“Pretty Woman,” “Valentine’s Day,” “The Princess Diaries,” “Raising Helen”
Producer: New Line Cinema
Rice Films
Karz Entertainment
more »
Distributor: New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures

“The one night anything is possible.”

Gary Marshall’s latest romantic comedy, “New Year’s Eve” rings in the New Year with a light-hearted message of hope, love, forgiveness, and second chances. This film follows eight interconnected stories of people from all walks of life, as they each prepare to celebrate the New Year in New York City.

The movie begins as Claire Morgan (Hilary Swank), the VP of the Times Square Alliance, coordinates the famous dropping of the lighted ball in Times Square. We are soon transported to the maternity ward of a hospital, where we meet two dueling couples (Jessica Biel and Seth Meyer), whose wives are both about to deliver, and are vying to collect the $25,000 prize awarded to the first baby of the New Year. While those two couples are about to welcome new lives, Stan (Robert De Niro), an older, terminally-ill man faces his final hours and wants his kindhearted nurse, Aimee (Halle Berry) to take him up onto the rooftop, so he can watch the iconic ball drop one last time. Meanwhile, Laura (Katherine Heigl), a successful caterer and Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi), a famous singer, are forced to deal with their broken engagement, when Laura is hired to cater a party that Jensen is performing at. Jensen wants to rebuild their broken relationship and marry Laura, but she is bitter and reticent to forgive him after he walked out on their relationship last year.

The other players in this story include: an underappreciated middle-aged secretary (Michelle Pfeiffer), who seeks to find meaning in her life, by fulfilling her seemingly impossible list of resolutions before midnight. Paul (Zac Efron), a kind young bike courier, volunteers to help her complete her list of resolutions in exchange for tickets to the hippest party in town. The lives of Randy (Ashton Kutcher), a cynical illustrator and Elise (Lea Michele), a young singer hoping to get her big break, collide when they get stuck in a broken elevator together.

Meanwhile, a young businessman, Sam (Josh Duhamel), who is stranded in the country, hitches a ride into Manhattan with a family in their RV. Sam hopes to make it to the city in time to deliver an important speech and possibly rendezvous with a woman he met last New Year’s Eve. Sarah Jessica Parker and Abigail Breslin round out Marshall’s star-studded cast as a mother and daughter pair, Kate and Hailey. Kate is a concerned single mom who is trying to protect her rebellious 15-year-old daughter, Hailey, who is hoping to meet up with a cute boy from her school in Times Square to get her first kiss.

Positive elements

From both a moral and cinematic standpoint Marshall’s “New Year’s Eve,” a holiday-themed spin-off from Marshall’s film from last year, “Valentine’s Day,” gets higher marks on both fronts than its predecessor. Even though “New Year’s Eve” is far from perfect, the overarching themes of this story have a positive message, and this film has a bit more of a moral compass than most other PG-13 films of its genre. “New Year’s Eve’s” central themes of forgiveness, second chances, kindness, and love are explored in a very accessible manner through the film’s lighthearted tone and humor. Jensen and Laura’s storyline has a nice message of forgiveness and reconciliation, and it also reminds viewers of the importance of forgiveness and commitment in relationships. Jensen’s character is quick to admit his mistakes and apologize to Laura, and he is committed to rebuilding their relationship. Sam (Josh Duhamel) decides that he wants more than just a pretty girl, but he wants to be in a real relationship of substance. The kindness that the nurse, Aimee shows Stan on his deathbed is another example of one of the many positive aspects of this film.

The culmination of the film’s central messages of forgiveness, second chances, and kindness come together after the iconic lighted-ball in Times Square malfunctions and Claire (Hilary Swank) is forced to address the public on television. Claire reminds everyone in her public address that New Year’s is the time to reflect upon the past year and take stock in what really matters most in life, give one another second chances, and show one another forgiveness, love, and kindness not just today but everyday.

Negative elements

Even though “New Year’s Eve’s” central messages of forgiveness, love, second chances, and kindness are refreshing, this film is certainly not devoid of negative content. The dialogue is punctuated with some verbal innuendo. For example, a man who just got married mentions that his “casual sex” days are over, a man says he and his girl are going to “crush a 12 pack and watch porn,” there is a mention of “make-up sex”, the term “boinked” is used. There are several crude references to the female anatomy, in the scenes with the two expectant mothers. There is a smattering of foul language in the film. The f-word is used once, one use of b-----, a few uses of h----, a---, and p----. The s-word is uttered once in the bloopers. One of the characters uses the term SOL and tells Sam that he is ‘Something Out of Luck.’

Some of the women’s costumes are too revealing and tight. Fifteen year-old Hailey gets into an argument with her mom about how grown up she is and proceeds to show her mom how mature she by lifting up her shirt and showing her mom her bra. Hailey’s mom quickly reprimands her and tells her that “this is not girls gone wild.” People are seen drinking socially at parties in a number of scenes. Laura slaps Jensen across the face twice. There is also an exchange between the middle-aged secretary and Paul, the bike courier that may offend some viewers. There are number of kisses through out the film as well.

“New Year’s Eve” relies heavily on the clichés of its genre, but this film’s interconnected storylines still make for a light and enjoyable film with a redeeming message. Even though this film is peppered with some innuendo and language, “New Year’s Eve’s” central moral themes of forgiveness, love, second chances, and taking stock in what’s really important in life give this romantic comedy a certain redemptive quality that echoes the Christian ideals of forgiveness, love, and kindness, albeit at a surface level.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—In my opinion, this movie was ten times better than “Valentine’s Day”! This one was chock full of the Gary Marshall charm that seemed lacking in that other film. I also thought the characters were much more likeable in this one; and, while V. Day seemed to be all about sex, “New Year’s Eve” was more about hope, family, and friendships. Okay, enough comparisons!

This is a great movie for a girl’s night out. I know many didn’t like it from a critical point of view… and I suppose I can see why since the plot is so stretched between characters and storylines. But not every movie has to be a critical masterpiece! I loved this movie because it was fun to watch, and it looked like everyone had a blast making it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—This was a great movie! It had a lot less immorality than most Hollywood movies these days. It still had some stuff in it, but it was great. It had some tender moments and a great plot line. It was really sweet, especially since it wasn’t people jumping in bed; it was people who actually fell in love. Very sweet enjoyable movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Brianna, age 15 (USA)
Positive—I enjoyed this movie. Very good acting. Sofia Vergara, usually wears low cut shirts, and she did in this movie, but I liked it. I thought that it was supposed to be kind of like the movie “Valentine’s Day,” but I heard that was mostly about sex, but this was a lot better. My parents went to see, and they liked it a lot, too. I want to rent it on New Year’s Eve!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Brianna, age 15 (USA)

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