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Vol. LXV, No. 49
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

GET US TO THE HOSPITAL ON TIME: Using any transportation method available, Griffin (Seth Meyers, on left in rickshaw) and Tess (Jessica Biel), who is in labor, are anxious to get to the hospital and have their baby be the first one born in the new year so they can collect the $25,000 prize.

New Year’s Eve:New Yorkers Search for Love in This Romantic Comedy

Kam Williams

It is impossible to avoid comparing this picture to Valentine’s Day and Love Actually, because both of those romantic comedies also involved the relationships of a number of couples whose lives serendipitously intersected on a big holiday. The good news is that this film is far superior to the former although it falls short of the latter, which made this critic’s Annual Top Ten List for 2003.

Directed by Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman) New Year’s Eve features a cast with matinee idols at every turn, most notably Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ludacris, Karen Heigl, Matthew Broderick, Jessica Biel, and Common. The point of departure is Manhattan on a balmy December 31st where we find each of the protagonists anticipating the arrival of 2012, although for very different reasons.

Corporate executive Claire Morgan (Hilary Swank) is too busy overseeing the annual Times Square extravaganza, with the help of TV host Ryan Seacrest, a NYPD officer (Ludacris), and a crack repairman (Hector Elizondo), to attend to a pressing personal matter. Nearby, event planner Laura Carrington (Heigl) is putting the finishing touches on a rock concert at which her ex-boyfriend Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) will be headlining.

Meanwhile, one of Jensun’s backup singers (Lea Michele) gets trapped in an elevator with a curmudgeon (Ashton Kutcher) who has vowed not to celebrate the holiday. Then there’s the overanxious mother (Parker), who’s so worried about her teenage daughter’s (Abigail Breslin) crush on a classmate (Jake T. Austin), to think about her own needs.

Hospital-bound Griffin (Seth Meyers) and his wife Tess (Biel), who is in labor, are hoping to win the $25,000 prize for having the first baby born in the new year. Elsewhere in the hospital, a terminal patient in the cancer ward (De Niro) is trying to talk his empathetic nurse (Berry) into taking him up to the roof to watch the ball drop. And this mosaic wouldn’t be complete without a tale about an older woman (Pfeiffer) being serenaded all over town by an ardent admirer who is young enough to be her son.

Like an orchestra conductor, veteran director Marshall masterfully executes a cinematic balancing act, seamlessly and effortlessly intertwining these discrete stories. All roads lead to Times Square as the tension slowly ratchets up, with enough surprising twists and turns along the way to tug on your heartstrings.

Very Good (***). Rated PG-13 for profanity and sexual references. Running time: 117 Minutes. Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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