Groundhogs Day gets a Christmassy spin in 12 Dates of Christmas
Starring Amy Smart, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Jayne Eastwood, and Richard Fitzpatrick
12 Dates of Christmas uses a familiar time loop gimmick to keep protagonist Kate (Amy Smart) reliving the same Christmas Eve, and date, time and time again. Kate hopes to use the Christmas Eve as a way to reconnect with her ex-boyfriend, even though she has a perfectly viable alternative in her blind date Miles (Mark-Paul Gosselaar). Obviously, the audience knows that Kate needs to learn her lesson before she can truly break free of her predicament. There’s also the foreknowledge that it’s going to take her twelve tries to actually get it right.
Despite the fact that the audience knows that the same day is going to be relived twelve times, the narrative manages not to get repetitive, and introduces something new each day to develop both Kate and the world around her. On one loop, for example, Kate befriends her neighbour Margine (Jayne Eastwood) and learns how to bake, while on another she goes on a mad spending spree and maxes out her credit card. Ultimately, of course, Kate learns that she needs to learn to be less selfish, and to live in the moment, instead of planning her life out in minute detail. This also allows her to get over the loss of her mum which has prevented her creating a meaningful relationship with her dad’s new wife. Smart manages to play the development in Kate’s character very well, showing subtle changes with every time she repeats a day.
For his part, Gosselaar plays his function in the narrative well. His function, generally, is just to be a flawless man, who is charming, good looking, caring and intelligent. He also has a typically tragic backstory: in this case, a wife, who died while cleaning out the guttering. No, seriously.
The film also has nice touches, such as the fact that each day has a subtle reference to the lyric from “The 12 Days of Christmas”, such as on the eighth repeat, there’s a subtle display of Eight bottles of “Maids A-Milking”, which I’d very much hope is a fictional brand.
12 Dates of Christmas is just the kind of non-committal, would-be-terrible-at-any-other-time-of-year-but-it’s-Christmas-so-I-can-waste-my-time-with-this film to settle down to over the Christmas period. It’s full of heart and it’s just good fun.
12 Dates of Christmas is streaming now on Disney+