Despite a seemingly “hopeless” world, there is one night when the whole world does gather together – New Year’s Eve. It is the one night in the entire year where the entire world can join together to celebrate the start of a new day – a whole new year where anything seems possible and a magical moment can be captured in a kiss... the one kiss that might change everything for someone. Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) wouldn’t dream of letting her hair down like that and she isn’t the boldest person, either. In fact, she is something of a bore when it comes to excitement and living it up. Not one who looks a person in the eye, Ingrid finds herself at the office on the one day she wasn’t expecting to be, and is snapping at the courier service guy who has delivered packages to her building for month now. Paul (Zac Efron) just wants to cheer up his buddy and roommate, Randy (Ashton Kutcher). Not in a very festive mood which stems from lack of work, Paul is determined to get his friend out in the heart of the city for a night of fun. His answer comes when Ingrid offers him four tickets to the hottest party in town, contingent upon him working for her for the day to help her check off each of her new year’s resolutions… and then, Randy gets stuck in an elevator with an aspiring singer (Lea Michele) who is supposed to be singing back-up vocals to the hottest act at Time’s Square, Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi). It was just one year ago when Jensen messed up his own life with his girlfriend whom he proposed to and then left. Now Laura (Katherine Heigl) is catering the same party that Jensen has been booked at, only she is not in the most forgiving mood, but despite her anger, Jensen is betting on a chance to make things right.
Single mom Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) is about at her wit’s end raising a teenage daughter, Hailey (Abigail Breslin). All Hailey wants is to stay in the city and go to Time’s Square with her history class and maybe share her first kiss with the guy she is crushing on. Across town an expectant young couple (Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers) is competing to have the first baby born in the New Year and the prize money that accompanies it while a lonely man (Robert De Niro) fights to see one last New Year, and his kind-hearted nurse, Aimee (Halle Berry) stays by his side. Meanwhile, Claire Morgan (Hilary Swank), the woman in charge of seeing that the ball drops is dealing with a crisis when the ball stalls and Sam (Josh Duhamal) hopes that a chance encounter from the year before turns into more than just a one-time twist of fate – and this time he won’t let her walk away.
In case you didn’t catch it, nearly every A-lister is in this cast list – and there’s more. In addition to the “main stories” in the movie, there are other familiar faces such as Carla Gugino, Jake T. Austin, Sarah Paulson and Sofia Vergara while big-name stars Jim Belushi, Matthew Broderick, Alyssa Milano and Cary Elwes also make appearances. (Plus, you will recognize many other faces from Marshall’s works.) It was ironic that Kutcher and Biel were also a part of the Valentine’s Day ensemble and what would have made it more interesting would have been for them to resume their roles, which alas, they did not. Nevertheless, it doesn’t diminish from the fact that I found this to be well worth my five-dollar movie ticket.
Apart from its setting, there is something really magical about this movie – it sparkles with personality. It has a quality that makes its energy infectious. Nearly every film review site that I respect commented that this was much improved over Valentine’s Day and even given that, it pleased me to find them proved right and I couldn't help but be surprised. Apparently Marshall and the writers took into consideration everything that they did wrong in their first attempt and applied it to New Year’s Eve. This is one romantic-comedy that earns its accolades in spades and I appreciate that about it. Is it perfect? Ummm, no. But then, what is? New Year’s Eve delivers some really poignant messages before its time runs out and I dearly loved all of the characters. Efron has officially shed his teen idol image even though he does nothing untoward as Paul (he is suggested to be a ladies man to some extent), I thought his character was fun and he did a great job; SJP was surprisingly decent in this role and Abigail gets her first on-screen kiss here (without making it seem trashy). I also have to say that Heigl and Bon Jovi were adorable together despite my thought that I’d hate him the role, they were really great plus share some cute chemistry, and in fact, their story was one of my most favorites.
Most of the time, I do not like a multi-arc story to this extent, but this one was really well done and I liked how the stories inner-related. Some of them even threw in a surprise or two, which is not something to expect from this genre of film. To be honest: the flowery Valentine's Day did disappoint me because it just wasn’t up to Garry’s usual flare. I still indulge in an occasional viewing and do appreciate the good bits but seeing as they are buried underneath so much filth, it makes that difficult (this movie could pass for a PG in comparison). To top all that off, New Year’s Eve has heart and a lot of goodness even in the imperfections. Although it won’t be in theaters, I am already eager to see this one again. It encourages “new beginnings,” has fun characters and an adorable ending to boot (bloopers and all). Recurring as a theme, it promises its viewer that a new year can be seen as a “gift” of hope – of new beginnings, and if we want that badly enough, clichéd or no, that is true.
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(Rated PG13 for… a handful of tacky sexual innuendoes – some of which have no basis, others are true. Mild implications reference childbirth. There is a handful of swearing [bi*ch, h*ll, etc] and one misfortunate use of the f-word. There are some kisses.)