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12 Days of Christmas Eve (November 6/05)

Featuring a storyline that's almost identical to Groundhog Day's, 12 Days of Christmas Eve casts Steven Weber as insensitive businessman Calvin Carter. After spending Christmas Eve ignoring his family in favor of a business deal, Calvin walks out of his office and is summarily struck by a falling sign. He awakens in a mysterious hospital room, where a nurse named Angie (Molly Shannon) is tending to his seemingly non-existent wounds. Soon after, Calvin learns that he must repeat the events of Christmas Eve until he gets it right - or until he's had 12 tries at it, at which point he'll presumably be sent to Hell (the film remains vague on this point).

12 Days of Christmas Eve is just as sentimental and predictable as one might imagine, though it remains kind of watchable thanks to Weber's engaging performance and an admittedly irresistible premise. Director Martha Coolidge imbues the proceedings with an appropriately light and breezy vibe, although the film's made-for-TV origins remain apparent throughout (aside from the distinctly low-rent production values, the occasional pauses for commercial breaks contribute heavily to this feeling).

Because there are certain lessons that Calvin must learn before the end credits can roll (ie money isn't everything), there's not a lot screenwriter J.B. White can do in terms of innovation. As such, 12 Days of Christmas Eve unfolds precisely the way one might expect - with Calvin initially reluctant to make lifestyle changes, until he starts to see the sort of effect his choices have on those around him. And though White essentially turns Calvin into a touch-feely figure virtually overnight - the character bungles his way through his first 11 days and morphs into the proverbial Mr. Sensitivity on his last attempt - the screenwriter generally does a nice job of keeping the maudlin hijinks to a minimum.

While nobody will ever mistake 12 Days of Christmas Eve for a holiday classic, the film's upbeat tone and message of kindness ensures makes it ideal viewing for the whole family (particularly during the Christmas season, obviously).

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About the DVD: First Look Home Entertainment presents 12 Days of Christmas Eve with a letterboxed transfer, though extras are limited to trailers for other First Look releases.
© David Nusair