For a Family Movie Night on New Year’s Eve, Josie Ortega suggests classics and comedies that all ages can enjoy. Check our favorite New Year's Eve movies!
If you’re old enough to have kids, you’re old enough to know that the high expectations for New Year’s Eve easily put it in the running for the most overrated holiday. Got plans to go out on the town? Enjoy! But if not, everyone has my permission to stay in and hit the hay well before midnight.
A solid strategy: don pajamas and party hats, pop the champagne for adults and ginger ale for the kids—and make it a Family Movie Night with one of these New Year's Eve movies!
Holiday Inn. This Bing Crosby classic makes a natural choice, especially for those kids who’ve been loving White Christmas all December. The scene with Fred Astaire’s New Year’s Eve dance is a must-see—he is fall-down drunk, though. It might be an occasion to talk about alcohol with kids, depending on their maturity levels, or might just be entertaining. I do love this movie, with another huge disclaimer: the song and dance number for Lincoln’s birthday is performed in blackface, and it’s a plot point that Jim (Bing Crosby) uses that costume to hide his love interest Linda Mason from Ted (Fred Astaire). My approach: skip that scene, and tell the kids why.
Ocean’s 11. I actually haven’t seen this original Ocean’s 11 from 1960, which is set on New Year’s Eve! The fun heist movie, featuring Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr, and Dean Martin, must be classic for a reason. If nothing else, I’m in just to enjoy the music and style of the Rat Pack.
An Affair to Remember. In which Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr ruin us for romance forever. If the kids can stay awake, they’ll see a classic New Year’s Eve kiss . . . then they’ll have to know whether the lovebirds actually meet each other six months later on top of the Empire State Building. (You can tell them what happened tomorrow morning. It might be a little slow for children, but such a beautiful movie!)
New Year’s Eve makes as good a time as any to enjoy Meg Ryan in the romantic comedies that made her a star! Nora Ephron either wrote or directed each of these funny, charming films whose plots follow the calendar year and/or have scenes on major holidays:
Sleepless in Seattle. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are Made For Each Other, and you’ll love their chemistry even though they spend no time together until the finale. The scene where Rita Wilson’s character discusses An Affair to Remember is one of my favorites, ever.
You’ve Got Mail. An ode to bookshops, an ode to New York, and the kids may laugh at the old-fashioned sound of dial-up internet. It might actually bring up helpful discussions about technology and relationships.
When Harry Met Sally. Watch Meg Ryan's and Billy Crystal's characters' relationship develop over the years, along with Meg Ryan's iconic style. In addition to the romantic finale on New Year’s Eve, this film features a glorious New York City, and friendships that grow through the years—I love Carrie Fisher in this. Fair warning! The plot itself is one ongoing frank discussion about sex. “I’ll have what she’s having.” Be prepared to watch this one after kid bedtime, or to discuss with your older teenagers.
Probably none of us needs to pass along to our children the neurotic need to see the New Year as an opportunity for self-improvement. Nonetheless, talk of fresh starts and new beginnings fills the air around the new year, and movies with makeovers and reinventions of self are some of the most fun to watch.
Big. Everyone loves a young Tom Hanks, charming as ever, in so many classic scenes like dancing on the huge piano keyboard. He’s an adult, but he’s a kid, and he gets an amazing NYC apartment. Sensitive children (and moms!) may be upset at his separation from his family. But, in case you missed any Disney film, orphans and family separation seem to be a staple of most children’s movies! Practice knowing that there’s a happy ending. Kids might want to close eyes during the scene with the creepy Zoltar machine. The implied sexual content went way over my head as a kid, but it’s worth being aware of or planning to skip.
Freaky Friday. As with Big, both parents and kids find humor in the role reversal between childhood and adulthood. I’d go for the 1976 version with Jodie Foster.
My Fair Lady. Rex Harrison plays the linguistics expert who oversees the transformation of Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) from street merchant into a possible princess. Great music. Great clothes. Memorable scene at the racetrack. Come on, Dover!
As always, parents have the responsibility to decide when and which New Year's Eve movies their kids watch. (You can check sites like Common Sense Media or PluggedIn for the content of many films.) It’s fun to bring kids into the experience of watching movies that their parents love. But if none of the above works for your family, you can go with a kids' classic like Happy New Year, Charlie Brown instead! There’s always next year.