PLOT: A woman must relive Christmas Eve until she does everything right.
Have you every wanted to see Groundhog Day set during Christmas? Then, I have the movie for you.
12 Dates of Christmas replaces Bill Murray with the lovable Amy Smart (Varsity Blues, Road Trip) as the cursed protagonist who has to relive the same day over and over. Unlike Murray, Smart’s Kate Stanton takes exactly 12 days to get everything right; hence the film’s title. While this mechanic is interesting, it also leave little drama in the story. I found myself counting each day to figure out how many more situations were left. It wasn’t until about halfway through that I realized each day showed something referring to the song so you didn’t need to count. It was a nice touch.
The first day begins with an office Christmas party where we meet Kate’s and her best friend, Miyoko, who like most people Kate encounters will become important later on. We find out that Kate is still obsessed with her ex and wants to meet him later even though she has a blind date with Miles, played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Franklin & Bash, NYPD Blue). Maybe I’m naïve but who has a blind date on Christmas Eve. Anyway, her plans are to go on the date, hope to see the ex and end the night at her Dad and Stepmom’s house.
Everything I mentioned above are the major events of this movie, no new major plot points will occur and everything will be some off shoot of these events. The writers do a good job of interweaving and finding different tangents to explore, but at times it feels like they expect us to suspend too much disbelief. Also, the time frame that everything happens in is incredibly confusing unless every location in the movie is within a few blocks of each other.
Nonetheless, the 12th day is a well done montage that connects everything Kate has learned, and if you ignore some leaps of logic, concludes with a heart-warming final scene, which includes everyone in the film beginning to sing — you guessed it — “12 Days of Christmas”.
Not much in terms of religious overtones, but there is a nice scene where Kate and Miles go to Midnight mass and find Kate’s neighbor sitting by herself. Even though it is a short scene, it does signal a small turning point for Kate.
Reason For the Season Score: 2 out of 5
The title itself doesn’t hide that it is a love story, but it doesn’t mention that Kate essentially becomes Cupid by the end of the movie. It goes a little overboard by using the everyone-Kate-meets-is-looking-for-love mechanic, including the most minor of minor characters. While it is eye-roll inducing, the writers do a nice job of making it mostly possible.
Love Story Score: 5 out of 5
In the tradition of most ABC Family Christmas films, 12 Dates litters almost every scene with lights or decorations. The only thing this movie lacks is an abundance of Christmas songs. It uses repetition more than quantity, including overusing “12 Days of Christmas”. The one day when Kate over does Christmas is enough to earn this score.
Christmas-ness Score: 4 out of 5
While the writers do a good job of showing character growth for both Kate and Miles, it keeps the other characters too one note for the movie to break from the mold. 12 Dates of Christmas is Amy Smart in her element and a reminder that she shines in a romantic comedy. Her chemistry with Mark-Paul Gosselaar is good enough to keep the audience rooting for them, even though it’s pretty obvious what will happen.