PLOT: Given the opportunity to visit her estranged family on Christmas Eve 1996, Kristin Cartwright hopes to change her past in order to improve her current life.
Time travel movies always have one thing that is that you need to overlook or else everything falls apart. Usually it’s something simple like how is Marty allowed to go to high school in 1955 without anyone getting suspicious. It is the one type of film that always requires the most suspension of disbelief, and Kristin’s Christmas Past is no exception.
We meet Kristin, played by Shiri Appleby (Roswell, Life Unexpected), on her way to a Christmas party with her rich childhood best friend, Jamie — played by Will Kemp (Van Helsing, Step up 2: The Streets). After said party, Jamie walks Kristin home and breaks the news to her that he is going home for Christmas, which means that he will not be able to do their traditional rooftop Christmas Eve. This turn of events leads Kristin to drinking a bottle of champagne and passing out. When she wakes up, it is 1996 and she’s sleeping next to her past self.
Once Kristin is in the past, the movie expects you to excuse a lot of weird behavior and stupidity of the characters in Kristin’s past. First, her younger self gives Kristin way too much time to explain herself instead of screaming until her mother had this weird lady arrested. Next, her mother quickly agrees to allow this stranger to spend Christmas Eve with them, even though her daughter never mentioned her before. Did people invite strangers to their Christmas Eve dinner in the 90s? Because I don’t remember this happening.
This scene made me roll my eyes for two reason: One, do school advisers randomly show up at potential students house all the time, especially from as far away as New York? And two, how doesn’t her mom check to see if there’s actually a blizzard on the east coast before letting a strange woman in her house? This is only the beginning of the red flags that older Kristin isn’t who she says she is, and any one of them should have brought the cops. But because of the type of movie this is, the opposite occurs and the family actually embraces her. Maybe it’s me, but this lack of realism doesn’t do it for me. At least Marty had a built-in excuse for entering his mother’s house in the past.
For the first time since 12 Dates of Christmas, a movie mentions and shows midnight mass. Kristin’s Christmas Past ups the ante by including a bell choir performance. The next level for this category is to have some prayers said and/or a priest performing a section of the aforementioned mass, and I’m pretty sure we’ll get there (looks at Candice Cameron Bure).
Once again we find a male-female unrequited love story, and one that’s not as well done as Christmas Crush (I know, I’m surprised too). There is a shoehorned in love triangle, but because of the plot, the wrong boy never has a chance. My main issue with this love story is there’s not enough screen time between the meant-to-be-together couple when they are the correct ages; Older Kristin with younger Jamie boarders on creepy.
Kristin’s mom, played by Elizabeth Mitchell (V, Santa Clause 2), takes pride in decorating her house and it shows. There’s a lot of red and green, and a well-decorated tree that is predominately featured in most scenes. She even pays a lot of attention to the exterior, which comes into play later when you see the house in the present. Also, here’s a photo of Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club, Suddenly Susan) reading a book:
Christmas-ness Score: 3.5 out of 5
The performances of the supporting actors in Kristin’s Christmas Past carry the film. While Appleby gives one of her better performances, it is still a little too over the top. The scenes involving both Mitchell and A.J. Langer (My So Called Life) were the highlight of the movie, and the latter was a welcome surprised to the cast. Even in his minor role, Judd Nelson’s presence was needed to ground the movie. I wish the actors that the main plot focused on had a more chemistry because the ending was a refreshing change for a time travel movie, but it didn’t have the impact that it should have. It is an average Christmas movies that tries to be more. I would only recommend it if you were wondering what Langer was up to recently.