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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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First Martyrs of the Church of Rome: There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the “Apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in 57-58 A.D.. 
<p>There was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in 49-50 A.D. Suetonius the historian says that the expulsion was due to disturbances in the city “caused by the certain Chrestus” [Christ]. Perhaps many came back after Claudius’s death in 54 A.D. Paul’s letter was addressed to a Church with members from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. </p><p>In July of 64 A.D., more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their “hatred of the human race.” Peter and Paul were probably among the victims. </p><p>Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. at the age of 31.</p> American Catholic Blog People are not perfect. But God does not only call upon great saints to reveal his love for the world. He also calls the broken and desperate. We are all called to act as God’s light in this darkening world.

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