Review – 12 Dates of Christmas (2011)

Time Loop Review #05

Type of time loop: ~12 Hours

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What I have noticed while watching these movies centered around the concept of time loops is that each one seems to be one of three basic theme models. The first is the rom-com, which so far, is the most common. The second is the horror themed film, which is, for the most part, the second most common. Then, we have Christmas movies. This isnt a complete list, by the way, it is just what you normally see for movies like this. That being said, 12 Dates of Christmas is the first movie centered around Christmas that I’ll be watching on the list.

If you’re interested in watching this family-geared Christmas romance film, here are the details: it originally aired on ABC Family, now Freeform, in 2011. It is publicly available to the world on Hulu, so if you have the service, you are set. If you don’t, there’s clearly something wrong with you and you need to get checked out…pronto.

A story that follows Kate (Amy Smart), 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. – IMDb

PEOPLE – 14/20 (70%)

Acting – 2/4 | Characters – 2/4 | Casting – 2/4 | Importance – 4/4 | Chemistry – 4/4

For this particular film, you can tell something right away when it comes to the people category: focus was essentially split down the line. While it didn’t really care who these characters were, who played them, or how the acted, their importance to the story overall as well as their chemistry with one another was actually focused on quite a bit. Every character had a purpose for being in the film, even when you don’t think they do, and that’s always a welcome aspect in film, they have a purpose, and the movie serves them just as much as it does Amy Smarts’ character. Also, being a romance, it has plenty of focus for the romance to flourish and ultimately make sense. While I wasn’t always on board with that love interest, I eventually caved enough to admit the chemistry is decent enough.

WRITING – 7/10 (70%)

Dialogue – 1/2 | Balance – 2/2 | Story Depth – 2/2 | Originality – 0/2 | Interesting – 2/2

There were certainly some interesting results in the writing category, some of which were surprising. First of all, we do have a story with proper balance, as our main character is trying to do one main thing: get over the pain she feels about her ex – whether that means getting back together or finding someone new. She uses the resets as redos to accomplish her initial goal – that is proper balancing and pacing. It also was rather impressive when it came to the depth the film goes for each and every character in the film. Usually, movies as a whole don’t focus so much on meaningful messages that touch most of the characters. Then again, it is Christmas. Originality? Not a chance. Not only does it feel unoriginal as far as time loops go, it feels like every other feel-good family TV movie that has ever existed. Nothing about it really felt very fresh. Then again, the concept is still interesting enough to keep me watching, so..ally oop!

BTS – 5/10 (50%)

Visuals – 1/2 | Cinematography – 1/2 | Editing – 0/2 |Advertising – 2/2 | Music/Sound – 1/2

Here’s where this movie suffered. It was a TV movie that didn’t even attempt to be anything different. At its best, nothing stands out and is absolutely average, but at its worse, things stand out in a bad, bad way, specifically with the editing. The transition from one day to the next is absolutely horrible. It zooms out of one day and zooms in to the next, and instead of zooming out far away with a camera (like any other movie), they just minimized the image. Which means the 16×9 widescreen image is shrunken within the film and you see all of its letterboxed glory, literally and physically taking you out of the movie. Other than that, you also have the tell-tale TV movie “fade-to-black” edits that make it feel more like a TV show than movie. If that’s how it was going to deal with its edits, it needed to focus on other areas, such as visuals and cinematography…but it doesn’t. At all. Making this category a bit lethal to the overall score.

NARRATIVE ARC – 10/10 (100%)

Introduction – 2/2 | Inciting Incident – 2/2 | Obstacles – 2/2 | Climax – 2/2 | Resolution – 2/2

We’ve got a pretty standard, albeit solid narrative structure in 12 Dates of Christmas. For the most part, it does a pretty good job in the introduction getting you acquainted with the primary characters and overall mood of the film, the Inciting Incident is pretty clear, and thanks to a character goal from the get-go, we have a few perfect examples of great obstacles. As far as the ending goes, it’s one of those that maybe the main character didn’t see coming….but we did because it’s a predictable TV movie, but it worked nonetheless, leaving the ending to calm down and find it’s new sense of norm.

ENTERTAINMENT – 3/10 (30%)

Rewatchability – 1/2 | Fun Experience – 2/2 | Impulse/Buy – 0/2 | Impulse/Talk – 0/2 | Sucks You In – 0/2

While this score is also something that can be construed as lethal for the overall score, it’s often the score for these time loop movies, each subcategory also scoring the same points as a majority of its predecessors. That may be because I’m watching these from least popular to most (on average from Letterboxd), but its probably due to the fact that we really haven’t found some truly remarkable time loop movies, either…even though I know they will show up sooner or later. Once again, the only thing holding this movie together as far as entertainment is considered is the gimmick itself, which is fun enough, but it won’t stay with you. You won’t care to buy it, own it, talk about it, and you can definitely blink and pause the movie.

SPECIALTY – 25/40 (62.5%)

Romance – 5/10 | Dramedy – 5/10 | Time Loop – 5/10 | Halfway Decent – 10/10

While 12 Dates of Christmas ultimately made the movie that they intended to make from the beginning, it wasn’t without its flaws. Romance is a pretty substantial element in the movie and you never really feel the love. Their chemistry is fine, yet nothing particularly exciting or memorable. The comedy and drama is mostly mixed together well, but it lacks any kind of emotional connection with the audience, it is ultimately an “as-is” film that’s not particularly trying to be anything more. As for the element of time loops, its perfectly fine, but overly predictable and it’s not really presented in any kind of new way.

Total Score – 64%

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