A special night at the movies
Movies are all about story arcs, and there’s no better plot-propelling device than New Year’s Eve, that champagne-and-confetti soiree when old gives way to new. But how well do Hollywood’s Auld Lang Syne moments mirror real life?
Thus, we examine five film plots that unfold on the last day of the year for a read on whether life can imitate art.
In this remake of 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure, disaster strikes on New Year’s Eve as a luxury liner is capsized by a rogue wave. Dressed in their now-soggy finest, a hearty band of survivors dig their way through the detritus of a massive party and their own insecurities in hope of making it safely into the next year.
Though giant waves could cripple a cruise ship, toppling one isn’t that realistic. And neither is the notion of folks heading to the high seas just to ring in the new year, says Michael Driscoll, editor of Cruise Week. “What’s great about New Year’s on board is you can drink all you want and go to sleep, but in that sense it’s also like many other nights on a cruise,” he says. “I will say that there’s no quieter place than Jan. 1 on a ship.”
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
The heroine of this book-turned-movie is fed up with her dowdy life and, on New Year’s Eve, vows to lose weight, stop smoking and “find (a) nice, sensible boyfriend” who isn’t an alcoholic, peeping Tom or megalomaniac. “Will especially stop fantasizing,” she writes in her diary, “about a particular person who embodies all these things.”
Dear Bridget is overreaching big time. The New Year’s resolution is a powerful cultural touchstone that can spur us to greatness if we resolve in moderation, says Gary Ryan Blair, president of The GoalsGuy motivational workshops. “Resolutions will fail if you don’t have real emotion behind them,” he says. “Identify one thing you want to change, work on it and achieve it. This way, you start the year with a winning feeling.”
Four Rooms (1995)
A bellhop starts a new job at an aging Hollywood hotel on New Year’s Eve. In short order, he is sucked into the lives of a coven of witches, a couple engaged in a bizarre role-play game, two children he has been paid to babysit by their partying parents, and an oddball movie director who wants him to participate in a macabre bet.
The only spell anyone falls under at The Peninsula Beverly Hills is the influence of the 200 bottles of bubbly the hotel orders to help guests ring in the new. “We’ll certainly do anything someone asks, from personal shopping to getting them an allergy-free room, but that’s usually as crazy as things get,” hotel spokeswoman Michelle Hodan says. “And we have 36 bellmen, not one.”
Peter’s Friends (1992)
On one hand, rounding up old college soul mates for New Year’s Eve can make for great fun and fond reflections. On the other, as with this look at reunited pals gathering at a friend’s newly inherited country house, the evening can devolve into some decidedly sobering revelations about life in the here and now.
Though New Year’s Eve is “about reflection and therefore a perfect excuse for getting old friends together, it’s also a very emotional time” and a magnet for weepy confessionals, says David Tutera, host of Discovery Home’s Party Planner With David Tutera. The big window for such antics: “The last 15 minutes of the year.” To keep your party in an upbeat mode, get the booze and tunes rolling right after the ball drops, he says.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
After decades of friendship, Harry and Sally confront their true feelings at a ball-dropping bash in New York. Harry insists it isn’t the rush of New Year’s Eve motivating him, only his desire to see the rest of his life “start as soon as possible.”
As wonderful as committing to your beloved on the eve of a new year might sound, “it really doesn’t happen often,” says Jen Schefft, former contestant on The Bachelor and the single at the center of The Bachelorette, whose new book, Better Single Than Sorry (William Morrow, $21.95), arrives in late January. “It’s so easy to build up New Year’s only to be let down.” And guys, beware: “Don’t invite someone to spend that night of the year with you if you’re not serious.”
Happy New Year!!
A special night at the movies