Making the Grades
The most apropos line in this movie may be, “There’s gotta be more celebrities here than rehab.” Taking time just to name each one would gobble up my entire word count.
Suffice it to say Director Garry Marshall has once again assembled an exhaustive roster of famous faces (and an expansive list of brand products) to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Each of his characters, whether single or coupled, comes with a complication surrounding the momentous evening.
At the center of the Times Square festivities, Claire Morgan’s (Hilary Swank) job is to ensure the famed ball drops at precisely the right moment. Unfortunately for her, a mechanical glitch threatens the tradition unless she can convince handyman Kominsky (Hector Elizondo) to come back to work.
In the meantime, Tess and Griffin Byme (Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers) push to get the New Year’s baby. Fifteen-year-old Hailey (Abigail Breslin) sneaks away from her mother (Sarah Jessica Parker) to go to the downtown gala with friends. Randy (Ashton Kutcher), a grumpy comic book illustrator, is stuck in the elevator with a girl (Lea Michele) who desperately needs to be somewhere else. And caterer Laura (Katherine Heigl) runs into her old flame (Jon Bon Jovi) at the party she is working. Add to those at least a half dozen other storylines viewers will have to keep straight.
Fortunately, unlike Marshall’s Valentine’s Day where characters engaged in more than canoodling, time doesn’t allow for any overtly intimate activities. However that doesn’t keep sexual innuendo from making its way into the script, along with a handful of profanities and one sexual expletive.
Still this sentimental and often predictable plot serves up some tender moments and a couple of nice twists—even if they feel as sugary as the Christmas cookies you just polished off.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about New Year’s Eve.
How does Randy let his past color his future? How do you deal with people like him who put a damper on festive celebrations?
What would be the appeal of starring in a movie like this one, where a celebrity gets limited screen time?
Zac Efron plays the cool uncle in this story. How important is it for children and teens to have other adults they can trust and rely on in addition to their mom and dad? What extent are parents willing to go in order to monitor their children in this movie? How do others feel about the hovering mother in this story? What is a healthy balance between supervising teens and encouraging independence?
While some people make New Year’s resolutions and others do not, is there value in taking time to reflect on the mistakes and successes of the past year and looking for ways to improve during the next? As unrealistic as Ingrid’s resolutions seem, how do they help her make real changes in her life?