Title: New Year’s Eve
Director: Garry Marshall
Starring: Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Katherine Heigel, Seth Meyers and Michelle Pfeiffer
People often think their lives are going in one direction, and don’t realize the impact someone they don’t know, or haven’t recently connected with in a long time, can have on them. But once they do make that connection with a stranger, they start to question their choices and what they can do to improve themselves. The new ensemble comedy ‘New Year’s Eve’ is an amusing reminder of the potential everyone has when they start to reflect on their choices.
The multiple story-lines featured in ‘New Year’s Eve’ include a single mother, Kim (played by Sarah Jessica Parker), who’s struggling to reconnect with her teen daughter Hailey (portrayed by Abigail Breslin), who’s determined to have fun with her friends. There’s also the race between Tess and Griffin Byrnes (played by Jessica Biel and Seth Meyers) to deliver their son before Grace and James Schwabs (portrayed by Sarah Paulson and Til Schweiger) have their daughter, in order to win the hospital money for the first born child of the new year.
Meanwhile, bike messenger and Kim’s brother, Paul (portrayed by Zac Efron), helps an unappreciated music secretary, Ingrid (played by Michelle Pfeiffer), fulfill her new year’s resolutions, in exchange for tickets to the hottest gala in New York. The party is catered by Laura (portrayed by Katherine Heigel), who’s torn over whether she should reconcile with her ex-boyfriend, famed singer Jensen (played by Jon Bon Jovi). The gala is hosted by Sam (portrayed by Josh Duhamel), who’s realizing that as he grows older, he needs to mature and find real love.
Director Garry Marshall included some intriguing plot stories and ideas in ‘New Year’s Eve,’ but ultimately failed to develop any true back-stories or developments for the characters. Like many large ensemble films, the comedy-drama featured quick, unsatisfied resolutions to the main conflicts that the characters experience, just to be able to wrap up the main story arcs.
For example, Kim and Hailey have an undeniable rift between them, and are having difficulties reconnecting with each other. Kim just wants to provide the best for her daughter, but Hailey wishes her mother would take care of herself as well, and enjoy her life. But screenwriter Katherine Fugate didn’t include any true details on why Hailey wants to rebel against her mother, leaving Breslin without the chance to show how she’s matured as an actress.
However, the cast seems comfortable with their co-stars in their immediate storyline, and with Marshall at the helm. The director provided his iconic humor that perfectly balances the seriousness of a situation and the comedy that arises from true life events. His natural charm easily helped the actors become comfortable with not only him, but with each other as well, on set.
For example, the Byrnes and the Schwabs are determined to win the money the hospital is offering, as it will greatly help their families. But the characters garner a laugh when they go as far as to offer to split the money with Dr. Morriset (played by Carla Gugino), who’s offended they ask her to perform a Cesarean-section, just to deliver their child first. Their willingness to have a surgery, even though it’s not medically necessary, just to win money shows how quickly people make decisions in times of desperation.
Biel and Myers, who don’t initially seem as a likely match, surprisingly provided laughs in their characters’ race to win the money. They seem comfortable with each other as Tess and Griffin embark on their journey to beat the Schwabs. They don’t have an immense romantic chemistry together, but do want to protect each other and do what’s right for their newborn child.
While ‘New Year’s Eve’ doesn’t reflect the issues plaguing society today as much as other ensemble films, such as the Academy Award-winning ‘Crash,’ or feature detailed character histories, the light-hearted comedy does provide true-to-life laughs. Marshall infused the movie with his unique wit that arises from real life situations. While some of the characters aren’t detailed enough to warrant their own full-length feature, some of the story lines are memorable, not only for their humor, but for their true-to-life dilemmas as well.