Thursday, September 24, 2020

12 Days of Christmas Review: An Unplanned Holiday Adventure

Release date: September 18, 2020
Running time: 95 minutes
Starring: Annie Newton, Drew Petriello, Katee Shean

Childhood friends Amy (Newton) and Steve (Petriello) come home from their first semester of college for a relaxed winter break, but must navigate turbulent reunions, unspoken romance, and even an unplanned pregnancy.  And as they navigate this, they are also dealing with the changes that have happened since leaving and going to college.  Can their friendship or potentially more survive this nightmare twelve days? 

12 Days of Christmas focuses on two main characters Amy and Steve.  They are longtime friends that have a lot of history and shared experiences, and luckily Newton and Petriello have natural chemistry together.  Their scenes together are a lot of fun to watch and there are some really enjoyable ones early on, such as an improv scene where Amy is trying to help Steve plan for a shopping trip.  And these two throw themselves into their characters with some spirited acting that is very fun to see at times.  However, for a movie that was mostly billed as a comedy, the film was not as funny as I was hoping it would be.  There are definitely some funny parts, such as the aforementioned improv scene, but it felt like 12 Days of Christmas thought it was going to a funnier film than it ended up being.  The actors were doing their best, but the jokes just weren't hitting.  And especially some of the jokes and sequences with the other characters.  

However, the film is part comedy and part drama, and thankfully the dramatic moments are much better than the comedy.  The film gets more emotional and interesting as it goes on, and towards the end there are some powerful scenes that are spearheaded by Annie Newton's fantastic dramatic performance and the pair's natural chemistry.  The writing is so much more enjoyable and interesting in the second half of the movie and it makes me excited to see what else comes from writer / director Michael Boyle.  The dramatic aspects also help to elevate the story towards the end of the film to allow it to play with and knock down some tropes of romantic comedies and Christmas movies.  There were definitely times when I thought I knew where this film was going only to have it throw a curve ball.  And what this allows for is the film to pivot into what it should have been at the start, with an ending that feels fitting given where the movie has evolved to.  

12 Days of Christmas is conceived as a comedy but emerges as a fully formed drama thanks to Annie Newton's performance, solid writing, and some unconventional situations.

Rent it.

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