Reviewed by: Laura Busch
Katherine Heigl … Laura Carrington
Robert De Niro … Harry
Ashton Kutcher … Randy
Zac Efron … Paul
Abigail Breslin … Hailey
Jessica Biel … Tess
Josh Duhamel … Sam
Sarah Jessica Parker … Kate
Michelle Pfeiffer … Ingrid
Hilary Swank … Claire Morgan
John Lithgow … Mr. Cox
Sofía Vergara (Sofia Vergara) … Ava
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|Director||Garry Marshall—“Pretty Woman,” “Valentine’s Day,” “The Princess Diaries,” “Raising Helen”|
New Line Cinema
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|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.
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.
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
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