Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
Thor
8.25 out of 10

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Year's Eve

Pause and Reflect

Director: Garry Marshall
Writers: Katherine Fugate
Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers, Sarah Paulson, Til Schweiger, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Sofia Vergara, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Sarah Jesica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Josh Duhamel, Hilary Swank, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Hector Elizondo

SYNOPSIS: The stories of the lives of several couples, singles, parents and children intersect throughout the course of New Year's Eve.

REVIEW: Garry Marshall, the director of such romantic comedies as Overboard, Runaway Bride, and Valentine's Day, returns to the screen for another holiday titled and themed movie. Marshall re-teams with his Valentine's Day writer Katherine Fugate and a cavalcade of stars for a film revolving around only a few of the millions stories and people as one of the most festive and renewing holidays counts down.

As the hours leading up to midnight an the dropping of the New York City New Year's Ball loom, New Year's Eve focuses on several stories of the lives of people dealing with the holiday and each other. Tame and timid Ahern Records employee Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer, Stardust) realizes that she needs to make a change and employs bike messenger Paul (Zac Efron, 17 Again) to help her cross off item from her long-standing New Year's resolutions list in exchange for four tickets to a hot masquerade ball hosted by her record company. Stan Harris (Robert De Niro, Little Fockers) lies in a hospital bed hours from the end of his life, desperate to see the ball drop just one last time. Nurse Aimee (Halle Berry, Monster's Ball) plans to stay with him until her shift ends just before midnight. Pregnant Tess Byrne (Jessica Biel, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry) and her husband Griffin (Seth Meyers, I Don't Know How She Does It) may be delivering in the hours following the ringing in of the new year. But labor pains are coupled with competition when they find out from rival couple Grace (Sarah Paulson, The Spirit) and James Schwab (Til Schweiger, Inglourious Basterds) that the first baby born in the new year at the hospital receives $25,000. Catering chef Laura (Katherine Heigl, Killers) and her sous chef Ava (Sofia Vergara, Modern Family) hosts the biggest party of their company's career, even though the main performer at the engagement is Laura's ex-fiancee rock star Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi, Pay It Forward). Holiday humbug Randy (Ashton Kutcher, Killers) finds himself stuck in his apartment elevator with holiday hopeful new 5B tenant Elise (Lea Michele, Glee). Radio City Rockette costume designer Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker, I Don't Know How She Does It) plans to stay at home with her fifteen year old daughter Hailey (Abigail Breslin, Zombieland) to watch the ball drop, but Hailey dreams of meeting up with a cute boy in Times Square for a kiss at midnight against her mother's wishes. Sam (Josh Duhamel) wishes his friends well as they complete their wedding vows then finds himself at the mercy of the kindness of strangers in order to get back to the Manhattan for a party toast and a possible midnight rendezvous with a woman he met last New Year's Eve. And finally, Claire Morgan (Hilary Swank, Boys Don't Cry), the vice president of the Times Square Alliance, feels the pressures of keeping the ball drop on schedule when the raising of the multi-light sphere runs into an electrical problem.

New Year's Eve packs a lot of tales into one film. Just outlining the bare bones of the stories involved takes groundwork. And in each slice of life, there is reflection and remembrance, humor and sadness. And once in a while, a couple of individuals in the sea of millions cross paths. Sometimes they are like ships passing in the night. Other times it seems cosmic forces attract people together or repel them apart. As the seconds tick by and the hum of anticipation for the clock striking twelve mounts, anything is possible.

Garry Marshall knows what he is doing. He is a romantic comedy maestro who has delighted audiences for decades. And his directing clout draws out so many stars, they are too numerous to mention. Even in small roles, each actor or actress can bring a smile to your face when they come into view. Fugate's story lifts up the spirit, even in moments where there is no hope. The new year brings the promise of new beginnings, new life, and resolutions for changes in our lives.

The pace of the film builds slowly, each story's foundation deliberately placed. As the countdown ends and the Times Square New Year's Eve ball drops to usher in a new year, the serendipity of the separated stories combines to fill in a nicely interwoven tapestry of the fabric of life.

WORTH: Matinee or Rental

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