From December 1 – 25, I will endeavor to watch a different Christmas movie each day and write about it on this blog. Here are the parameters:
- The movies I choose from cannot have been distributed in theaters for wide release (so no Elf, The Santa Clause, etc.). Movies made for TV, direct to video, streaming, or otherwise independent are up for grabs.
- I will only cover live-action full-length feature films. No reality shows or television shows (but again, made for TV movies are fine). I also won’t cover any holiday specials (ex. the Bob Ross special, Mariah Carey holiday special, Charlie Brown Christmas, etc.).
- All the available movies to stream (along with a Hallmark wildcard) are in a Google sheet, from which I’ll randomly choose one each day. If the movie turns out to be truly unwatchable within the first 10 minutes, I will redraw.
- Each movie will be rated based on a very strict set of Christmas criteria.
Got it? Let’s go!
12 Dates of Christmas (2011)
Directed by: James Hayman
Written by: Aaron Mendelsohn and Janet Brownell
Starring: Amy Smart and Mark-Paul Gosselaar
Synopsis: “A story that follows Kate, a young woman who after a horrible blind date on Christmas Eve, wakes up to find she is re-living that same day and date all over again.”
Watch on: Disney+
So let’s clear up on one thing right off the bat. Unlike Naughty & Nice, this movie is actually cute. It helps that Amy Smart and Mark-Paul Gosselaar headline it. (Disney shells out the big bucks.)
While the main premise is that of a rom com, it uses a decidedly Christmas-y/holiday premise, blending a Groundhogs Day/A Christmas Carol story to send Kate on a blind date with Miles to relive the same date over and over until she gets it right.
Also unlike Naughty & Nice, I actually rooted for these characters! Yes, of course, there were some ridiculous moments. Mark-Paul’s character is both a hockey player, a parkitecht (that’s a park architect), and a group home supervisor for underprivileged youth. Oh, and a widower. He’s also Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Only Disney could engineer this eligible of a bachelor.
While I’ve never found Amy Smart to be particularly winsome or engaging, she is charming and I guess I can see why she keeps getting cast in things. That is to say, this is exactly the perfect role for her.
What is unclear to me is what her character has done to karmically deserve this Scrooged scenario. Unlike Ebenezer, Kate is a pretty nice person at the beginning of the story. Her only real flaw is that she hasn’t gotten over her ex-boyfriend yet and still thinks she can win him back. Oh, and she doesn’t know how to bake (as her stepmom loves to point out).
So it seems a little weird within the universe of 12 Dates that someone like her would deserve to live the same day over and over again, especially because aside from one or two days, she’s pretty good in all of them and tries to be a different version of selfless many times over. It makes it very confusing as to what the moral of the story is supposed to be (other than a real woman should know her way around the kitchen), but it’s fun to watch nonetheless.
I am very curious about the sequel to this in which she accidentally confesses to him that she relived the same day 12 times and that’s why she weirdly knows everything him about him on their second date already and he calls Adult Protective Services. As already evidenced, I will watch anything with Zack Morris.
A real Christmas movie should be so full of snow that the characters are at risk of suffocating on it. The more snowflakes, the snowier (and more Christmasy) the movie.
Snowmeter: 0 out 10 snowflakes. I’m sad to report that this movie had even less snow than Naughty & Nice, and that’s including the packing peanuts!
What emotional cord is the movie trying to strike? Is it all about believing in the season? Or is it about the disillusioned bakery owner finding love once again? The higher the mistletoe, the feels this movie has.
The Feels: 8 out 10 mistletoes. This movie is much more emotionally satisfying. There’s a dead wife and a dead mom, so double deaths, plus the love story is actually romantic!
How good of a job does the movie do at getting you in the mood for Christmas? The more snowy white Santa beards, the more Christmas cheer.
Overall Christmas Spirit: 5 out of 10 Santa beards. While Kate relives her Christmas Eve over and over until she gets it right, this movie honestly could be set at any time of the year.
Would I Recommend? Yes! This movie is actually watchable!