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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

New Year's Eve

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Michelle Pfeiffer in "New Year's Eve."
A disappointing salute to an often disappointing social event, "New Year's Eve" (Warner Bros.) wastes a talented ensemble cast on a painfully forced romantic comedy.

Reuniting for a follow-up to 2010's "Valentine's Day," director Garry Marshall and screenwriter Katherine Fugate weave a web of love stories largely free of the moral tangles that marred their earlier collaboration. The humor falls flat, while the script's strained effort to transform Dec. 31st into a kind of secular High Holy Day is simply irritating.

Part of the problem may be that there are just too many thin characters on screen—with too little time devoted to any one of them—for viewers to form sympathetic connections.

The movie tracks the intersecting paths of Claire (Hilary Swank), the executive in charge of the titular holiday's iconic celebration in New York's Times Square; a rock star called Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) who's headlining the evening's entertainment there; Laura (Katherine Heigl), the up-and-coming caterer to whom the rocker was once engaged; and Elise (Lea Michele), one of Jensen's backup singers who finds herself trapped in an elevator for hours with Randy (Ashton Kutcher), a slacker.

Also thrown into the mix are Robert De Niro as a dying hospital patient, Halle Berry as his faithful nurse, Michelle Pfeiffer as an inhibited middle-age office worker out for adventure and Zac Efron as the free-spirited bike messenger she enlists to help her find it. And that's not even mentioning the pair of married couples—played by Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers, Sarah Paulson and Til Schweiger—aggressively competing for the $25,000 prize awarded to the first baby born after midnight.

Yet another story line, this one revolving around the mother-and-daughter duo of Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Hailey (Abigail Breslin), demonstrates the noticeable—and welcome—shift in tone between Marshall and Fugate's previous offering and this one. Hailey's rebellion against overly protective Kim is sparked by the 15-year-old's desire to obtain her first kiss from a classmate.

Also showing that the filmmakers have not entirely abandoned their old ways is the minor figure of a frisky grandpa. He pops up in still another plot pod, this one concerning a young record industry mogul portrayed by Josh Duhamel. As Gramps' family helps Duhamel's character return to the Big Apple after a minor car crash in the wilds, the less-than-staid patriarch evinces a prurient interest in their passenger's sex life.

The old-guy-talking-dirty gambit, needless to say, fizzles like inferior champagne. As for the attempt to celebrate year's end as an opportunity for mutual forgiveness and fresh dreaming, it's as strident as a noisemaker and achieves a similarly jarring effect.

The film contains some sexual references and humor, at least one use of the F-word as well as occasional crude language and crass slang. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.





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Louis of France: At his coronation as king of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Other kings had done the same, of course. Louis was different in that he actually interpreted his kingly duties in the light of faith. After the violence of two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice. 
<p>He was crowned king at 12, at his father’s death. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled during his minority. When he was 19 and his bride 12, he was married to Marguerite of Provence. It was a loving marriage, though not without challenge. They had 11 children. </p><p>Louis “took the cross” for a Crusade when he was 30. His army seized Damietta ini Egypt but not long after, weakened by dysentery and without support, they were surrounded and captured. Louis obtained the release of the army by giving up the city of Damietta in addition to paying a ransom. He stayed in Syria four years. </p><p>He deserves credit for extending justice in civil administration. His regulations for royal officials became the first of a series of reform laws. He replaced trial by battle with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in court. </p><p>Louis was always respectful of the papacy, but defended royal interests against the popes and refused to acknowledge Innocent IV’s sentence against Emperor Frederick II. </p><p>Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and, like his patron St. Francis (October 4), caring even for people with leprosy. (He is one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order.) Louis united France—lords and townsfolk, peasants and priests and knights—by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years the nation was at peace. </p><p>Every day Louis had 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him, and a large number of poor were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were given a meal, and Louis often served them in person. He kept lists of needy people, whom he regularly relieved, in every province of his dominion. </p><p>Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, he led another crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. His crusade was diverted to Tunis for his brother’s sake. The army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog God passes through the thicket of the world, and wherever His glance falls He turns all things to beauty. <br />–St. John of the Cross

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