Column, Movie Diary

 Sticking a fork in it

Well, there you have it. The worst year in recent memory is officially over. There seems to have been a collective sigh of relief around the world as 2020 gave way to an increasingly hopeful 2021.

Like most others, I spent New Year’s Eve at home. My son slept overnight with a friend so that marked the first time he’d not been with us for the annual celebration. This bothered my wife so much that she went to bed at 9 p.m. That left me alone to ring in the new year.

I carried on like it was any other weekend night. I sat next to my fireplace, book in hand, with a scotch on ice simmering next me. I had faint piano music playing in the background and my new smart lightbulbs dialed in to a relaxing hue.

I read for a couple hours and then, just after 11 p.m., I turned on the television to see how the world was celebrating.

Three major networks had New Year’s Eve shows on, complete with musical acts, celebrity interviews, and the occasional live feed from Time Square. They did their best to emulate the look and feel of a big party, but it honestly just came off as hokey.

In Times Square, the few revelers present had to stay in specially fabricated corrals to keep them from intermingling with other attendees. It was contrived and uncomfortable and I cringed whenever any of the hosts would try to act as if things were seriously awesome.

I watched the ball drop, and when 2021 officially arrived, I turned off the TV and went to bed.

As I was lying there waiting to drift off, I began to reminisce about the evolution of my New Year’s celebrations.

First of all, I never remember my parents having any parties, or going to any for that matter. From an early age, my father warned me about the dangers of New Year’s Eve. He called it “Rookie Night,” explaining that it was the one night of the year where people who shouldn’t drink or rarely drink would decide to kick it up a notch, causing undue mayhem for themselves and others.

Apparently, long before I came on the scene, my parents were at a New Year’s Eve get-together and my father was accosted by someone who was wildly inebriated. My father did not suffer fools lightly, so he rectified the situation in such a way that it put a damper on the festivities. After that, my mother said he refused to go out on New Year’s Eve.

In high school and college, there was always a party to help ring in the next year. Generally, my friends and I would end up at a bar dancing, shooting pool, and playing darts. My memory is foggy here, but I think we treated most weekends like New Year’s Eve.

I’ve never been one to go crazy on Dec. 31st (or any night for that matter), so more often than not, I was the guy driving people home. I never forgot what my father told me about Rookie Night, so I was always super cautious when transporting myself and others.

After my wife and I settled down, we started attending parties at our friend’s houses. This was a safer, more cost-effective approach to the annual celebration. Things still got crazy, but if anyone had too much to drink, they could always safely crash on the couch.

And now I’ve reached the point where New Year’s Eve feels like a young person’s game; I suppose I have a “been there, done that” attitude. That’s not to say I wouldn’t attend a party if it looked like fun, but getting things accomplished with a clear head on New Year’s Day has certainly taken precedence over reveling until the wee hours of the morning.

Of course, if there was ever a year to celebrate ending, it would have been 2020, but social distancing restrictions around the world put a damper on that. People did what they could with Zoom parties and small get-togethers, but it wasn’t the same.

I generally like to give a recap of the best films of the year when the end of December rolls around, but I’m refraining from that for 2020 simply because so few Hollywood-grade films were released due to the pandemic.

In lieu of that, I’m suggesting that you watch “Death to 2020” from Netflix, which was released last week to popular acclaim.

“Death to 2020” is a humorous look at all the events that shaped last year into one of the more memorable calendar years in recent memory. Narrated by Laurence Fishburne and starring Hugh Grant, Samuel L Jackson, and Lisa Kudrow, this “mocumentary” takes a non-traditional look at the popular year-end reviews that generally get released in December.

If you’re looking for some comic relief or need a witty reminder of what we all just lived through, definitely give this film a try.

A bitingly sarcastic “B-” for “Death to 2020.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]

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