Review: 12 Dates of Christmas

12datesHere we go with another movie review:

One of my favorite romcoms. It edges out A Christmas Kiss, even.

This is our first “magic of Christmas” story. Kate is a woman hung up on her ex-boyfriend. She has a blind date for Christmas Eve, though: her step-mother’s (“-‘lady friend.’ They’re only married in the eyes of the law.”) godson, Miles. Before the date, she shops for the ex-boyfriend (nothing says love like cashmere) and is knocked out by a perfume sample spray.

She gets up, manages to be a distracted, rude ass on the (short) date with Miles, meets up with the ex (who is bringing her the dog they apparently share custody of), and discovers he’s heading to The Cabin with a new woman. Devastated she goes back home and at midnight, the clocks turn back and suddenly it’s Christmas Eve again and she’s getting up from being sprayed with perfume.

So, you think, this is a Groundhog Day-like story about how she lives each day over and over again to get over the ex and hook up with the blind date, right? You are only a tiny bit right. This story is very clever the way it interweaves small plots: everyone has a story, from the next door neighbor giving Kate a cherry-chip-loaf to the schlubby guy who looks up hopefully and says, “Phyllis?” every time she goes to the bar for her blind date. (“No, I’m not Phyllis. Phyllis is never coming!” she cries at him several days in.) There’s a guy building a tacky sculpture of Christmas lights. There’s a lonely older gentleman who helps her up after she falls in the mall. She has to mend things with her step-mom. Her best friend is also lonely. There’s EVEN A LOST ORPHAN BOY. AND TWO DOGS. Kate is responsible for tweaking everyone’s situation to make things work out.

When the woman successfully gets the guy in the first third of the movie (I think it’s Day 4 or 5?), you can wonder what’s left to tell. But this movie is incredibly clever at showing that there is more to your life than love, and you touch many lives with small actions. (also in future days she messes things up with him, proving she hasn’t found the “right” way to win him.)

With her actions helping out so many others, it’s almost as if she’s Santa, but no movie would be so subtle as to let you assume that without slamming you over the head with it over and over and over again.

There is also the requisite “This isn’t real, so I can do anything I want to” scene, with a tattoo, doughnuts, fancy car, and shopping for fur – and then giving the fur to a homeless woman. Also we have the “help me, doc, I’ve gone crazy” scene.

I think I have less to say about this movie than the others, because it’s rich with sub-plots and I don’t want to ruin them. I can’t ruin the HEA- you know it’s coming. But there’s a lot of surprising depth to this made-for-TV-movie and it’s highly worth watching. Also she isn’t locked into doing the same things every day. Some days she doesn’t even go to meet Miles. One day she shows up early, sees him arrive early too, and they “meet” as strangers (no names) and she finds out she likes him when they don’t have the “BLIND DATE” weight hanging over them.

My favorite use of the repeated days has nothing to do with the love story. She finds a runaway, recognizes him, and he runs from her. She can’t catch him in her current clothes so she stops, frowns, and says, “let’s try that again.” Then we cut to the next repeat where she hasn’t fretted about the date or the ex at all, but she’s in a track suit and appropriately dressed to run after the kid.

Flaws: A few people (mostly people of color) in the movie deserved bigger roles. I would have loved to see side plots featuring the woman who sprays Kate with the cologne, and the guy who hits on her friend at the office party in the first scene.

I think this is a rare “(wo)man vs (wo)man” Christmas plot. No one is working against Kate, except she has to learn to change. She’s not even Scrooge-level selfish and needs to think of others. I think she’s more of an Everywoman because we all struggle against change and often just need to open our eyes a little wider.

Ratings:
Stars: None that I recognized
Storytelling: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Closeness to Christmas Carol: 0
Feminism: 5/5
Romance: 5/5
Is Christmas Saved?: Yes!
Tattoos received: 1
Donuts eaten: 6
Makeovers: 2

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Herself who runneth this site.

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