12 Dates of Christmas movie review
Before we get into this mess, when did the ABC Family channel (formerly… The Family Channel? I can’t remember…) decide that it’s target demo was going to be women 12 and up? It’s nearly all chick stuff, all the time, and it’s far from family appropriate. I’ve seen ads for the following shows during various Harry Potter Weekends. (Note: that’s about every other weekend.)
Greek – a show about college fraternities and the trouble they get into; very family friendly!
Pretty Little Liars – pretty sure their Halloween episode was about the stars of the show accidentally murdering someone
Desperately Seeking Santa – More like Desperately Seeking Satan… Eh? Eh? Right?
This holiday season, ABC Family brings us yet another original movie: 12 Dates of Christmas. It’s essentially a Groundhog Day ripoff – well, not essentially, it is a Groundhog Day ripoff.
Instead of Phil Connors, a self-absorbed weather man with ambitions of leaving his regional TV station for a national broadcast, we have some other character (played by Amy Smart) who is not nearly as interesting and twice as insane but is similar in most regards. The Rita character from Groundhog Day is played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who gets first billing in this piece of crap despite not being the star. The plot is pretty cut and dry: Amy Smart is obsessed with her ex boyfriend and wants him back, but he is about to propose to his new girlfriend. She now has 11 more chances (aka the Groundhog Day factor) to get over the old guy and realize she loves Mark-Paul Gosselaar (who she just met), while fulfilling other peripheral character’s Christmas wishes and other desires.
The crappy screenplay aside, the movie is weird. Amy Smart’s character needs to be locked up in a mental institution. Like Phil Connors, Smart goes to see a doctor to check for a tumor after she starts tripping through time, and he suggests that maybe she has some unresolved anxiety issues. This is by far the most astute observation anyone makes in the film. He probably built this theory after he asked her that if she could change anything about her life, what would it be? She answered without hesitation:
“Get Mark back.”
The doctor character didn’t respond with, “Wow, it’s not a tumor, you’re just crazy,” but he does try to tell her that she needs to get her mental house in order. But, because he can’t be too helpful this early in the film, he gives her some sleeping pills and tells her to move on with her life rather than recommending a shrink.
Sleeping pills are the perfect prescription for someone who is obsessed with their ex! I’d guess she’s either going to overdose or grind them up and slip them into a fruit cake she gives to the ex so she can kidnap him, but this movie takes place in a world completely divorced from any semblance of reality and is poorly written, so I don’t think we ever see the sleeping pills turn up at all.
The Time Travel
In Groundhog Day, Phil Conners goes to sleep each night and wakes up on the previous morning. This movie uses a similar device, but, I guess just waking up in bed to an alarm clock isn’t visually exciting enough for ABC Family and doesn’t hit the audience over the head with the fact that she’s gone back in time. The change over happens when, a few minutes before midnight, the dog wakes up to noise on the TV, which is showing a home shopping channel and the item for sale is a partridge pendent. You know… like the first day of the “12 days of Christmas” song – isn’t that clever?!? (We’ll get back to that later…) When the clock hits midnight, time rolls backward. Now, before the time travel starts, the dog barks at the TV and the partridge’s eye glows0 and then time rolls backwards… I initially thought it was inferring that the dog was activating the pendent, as they did this for the first few nights, but somewhere around “6 geese a laying,” the director must have said, “Fuck it. Let the dog sleep.”
Instead of waking up in bed to the alarm clock playing, “I’ve Got You, Babe,” Amy Smart always wakes up in the mall by the perfume counter, where she’d fainted the day before.
See, the counter lady sprayed her with perfume and she’d passed out – on day one, she gets up and the day moves on like normal. Some weird camera shit happened as well as some sound effects – this was supposed to indicate that something meaningful happened there on that day, I guess. It’s not done well, and the transition from the end of the day to the mall gets stale quickly. “I sprayed you and you passed out.” Gotcha. The first five times. Oh, six more times? Great. Actually, they skip one of the resets, but I’ll get to that…
But I don’t get it. Is the perfume magic? Is the perfume counter lady an angel? Does she work for Santa? Is she a witch? What is the link between the perfume counter lady on day one and the magic pendent on TV with the glowing eye?
I’ll save us all some time and just say that there is no connection – this movie just sucks.
The 12 Days of Christmas Imagery
In an effort to tie the movie in with the song of the same name, we see each item listed on the particular day, starting with the partridge pendent representing “And a partridge in a pear tree!”
Two turtle doves
Three French hens
Four calling birds
Five golden rings
Six geese a-laying
Seven swans a-swimming
Eight maids a-milking
Nine ladies dancing
Ten lords a-leaping
Eleven pipers piping
Twelve drummers drumming
But, they got lazy. The most forced was probably the 3 french hens, or as it was, 3 roasted french hens being carried out of a building and onto the street (because that’s what I usually do – cook some shit up and then carry it out onto the street right on the baking tray for no discernible reason) by some chefs. The funniest was probably the 9 ladies dancing – or, as it was, 8 ladies (because someone on the production team can’t count or lost an extra or whatever) in a conga line. They looked pretty drunk to me – score! If I recall correctly, 7 swans a swimming were just some kids with weird swan hats.
Somewhere around 10 lords a-leeping, she was chasing somebody down the street and they got away. Amy Smart was able to resist the urge to look directly into the camera when she said, “Lets try this again” and then the scene reset without a dog barking, a partridge pendent, a mall perfume counter or anything! I was not having this and yelled at the TV, “Wait what about the pendant? What about the dog? For god’s sake, what about the dog?!?” As if the writing wasn’t already lazy and the attempts to get the 12 Days of Christmas images into the appropriate scenes hilariously ham-fisted, the movie just starts breaking its own rules and deviates from their own format for a scene that was even more forced than the rest of the ridiculous movie.
Or maybe they were just as tired of showing the time travel/reset scenes as I was of seeing them.
They tried to hard to make the title work with the script… I truly believe that they came up with the title and then wrote the script around it, which is probably why the movie sucks so bad.
Amy Scott and Mark-Paul Gosselaar do not go on 12 Dates in this movie. I guess you could argue that it refers to the 12 experiences on the same date… or something. Or are there 12 peripheral characters that she helps? I only get 9:
- she hooks her friend up with Toby the bar guy (2 people)
- she makes friends with her step mom (1 person)
- she helps the dad have the Christmas party he wants (1 person)
- she helps the snowflake lady and snowflake man get engaged (2 people)
- she hooks up the cake lady with the lonely man from the department store (2 people)
- she helps the shelter kid who wants to keep the dog (1 person)
But if you add Amy Scott and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, that’s 11, but maybe I missed somebody… maybe it’s the shelter kid’s dog? I don’t know. Let’s go with the dog.
What else can I say? If you’re nostalgic for Mark-Paul Gosselaar, you should watch this movie. If you want to see a Christmas version of Groundhog Day, you should watch this movie. If you don’t think Romantic Comedies are dying as a genre, you should watch this movie.
Pretty much everybody else should steer clear of 12 Dates of Christmas. It’s not as bad as The Room, but it’s not as entertaining either. 2 stars are generous – watch at your own risk.
(Oh and Max the dog is probably a Jack Russel Terrier of the rough variety.)
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More Christmas at creativejamie.com/category/christmas/
In case you’re curious, I understand these are the reasons why the gifts mentioned in The 12 Days of Christmas are so friggin weird:
True Love refers to God
Sorry, I haven’t been able to undercover what significance the partridge has
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed… or Animal from the Muppets.
Posted on December 14, 2011, in christmas blog posts, movie review and tagged 12 Dates of Christmas, 12 days of christmas, abc family, amy smart, groundhog day, Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.