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12 Men of Christmas DVD Review

12 Men of Christmas (2009) DVD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com 12 Men of Christmas
Movie & DVD Details

Director: Arlene Sanford / Writers: Phillipa Ashley (book Decent Exposure), Jon Maas (teleplay)

Cast: Kristin Chenoweth (Emma Jane "E.J." Baxter), Josh Hopkins (Will Albrecht), Anna Chlumsky (Jan Lucas), Erin Dilly (Roz), Stephen Huszar (Jason Farrar), Heather Hanson (Lillah Sherwood), Jefferson Brown (Eric), Craig Eldridge (Mayor Bob Baker), Chantal Perron (Dr. Marci Hempel), Paul Constable (David Hempel), Aaron Abrams (Les Pizula), Frank Chiesurin (Scott Lewis), Peter Mooney (Noah), Joe Norman Shaw (Eddie), Jessie Pavelka (Henry Diepeveen), Mark Bellamy (Max), Ryan Northcutt (Mike Pontipee), Matt Embry (Andy Calivden), Paul Christie (Jim Calviden), Stephan Dubeau (Rick Larkin), Skerivet Daramola (Peter Brodie), Vanessa Holmes (Bonnie Baker), Carrie Colak (Sonya Kendall), Brendan Hunter (NY Cabbie Bob), Marianne Muellerleile (Diane), Stacy Zurburg (Susan Curtsonis), Lynley Hall (Laura Larkin), Monice Peter (Cindy), Philip Fulton (E.J.'s Assistant), Jerry Callaghan (Manager), Roberta Mauer Phillips (Nurse)

Original Air Date: December 5, 2009 / Running Time: 87 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated (TV-PG on air)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: November 23, 2010 / Suggested Retail Price: $22.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase

Buy 12 Men of Christmas from Amazon.com

Is there a Christmas carol whose lyrics have not been used or parodied in a movie title? Jingle All the Way, A Midnight Clear, Reindeer Games, Silent Night, Deadly Night. And here is 12 Men of Christmas, clearly a play on "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Still nothing from "Good King Wenceslas" or "Ding Dong Merrily on High", as far as I know.

Based on Phillipa Ashley's book Decent Exposure (recently retitled Dating Mr. December), 12 Men of Christmas is a Lifetime Original Movie that debuted last year. Though sometimes Christmas movies will come to video the same holiday season that they are introduced (most notably the Ben Affleck flop Surviving Christmas), 12 Men takes the more common approach of waiting a year.
There's a problem with that. Despite the title and timing, 12 Men of Christmas isn't a holiday movie. It's a chick flick that merely sets bookending scenes at Christmas.

12 Men stars Kristin Chenoweth, who the DVD cover identifies as an Emmy Award Winner. This is true; she won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on the esteemed but short-lived "Pushing Daisies." Well before that, she won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her Sally in 1999's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Following a nine-month run playing Glinda in Wicked, Chenoweth has ventured beyond Broadway for various film, television, and voiceover roles. Several of the parts she's taken suggest a fondness for Christmas: Deck the Halls (another carol-inspired title), Four Christmases, A Sesame Street Christmas Carol. Her third solo studio album as a singer was called A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas. She also joined Il Divo's Christmas Tour in two East Coast venues last year.

As someone who knows her way around a holiday project, Chenoweth must have recognized that 12 Men was exploiting the season rather than embodying it. If she's okay with it, should we be too?

Ho ho no! Christmas is ruined when E.J. Baxter (Kristin Chenoweth) catches her fiancι and her boss getting friendly in a bathroom stall. Who could see this coming? Will Albrecht (Josh Hopkins), the George Clooney of Kalispell and staunchest opponent to the calendar, steps up as Mr. December.

Here, Chenoweth plays E.J. Baxter, a high-powered Manhattan PR pro. At a work Christmas party, she catches her fiancι Noah (Peter Mooney) fooling around with her boss Lillah (Heather Hanson). On the eve of her St. George's Island wedding getaway, she drops Noah and the company drops her. Not only that, but E.J. finds that no other PR firm in the area will cross Lillah to hire her.
The one decent job offer that comes E.J.'s way requires her to move to the middle of nowhere, Kalispell, Montana, where the folks are simple and country roads all look the same. E.J. is brought in to take over the small town's tourism department in an effort to lure corporate retreats.

There isn't much work done in the way of that, but E.J. sees the use in helping Kalispell's admired volunteer Search and Rescue squad, which is in need of new equipment and the funds to acquire them. While bake sales are nice, E.J. believes the town has to think bigger to solve the problem quickly. She comes up with an idea: naked male calendar. Not too naked, it turns out. The movie even seems to back away from E.J.'s plan to cover private parts with tools of the trade, letting the men of Search and Rescue pose in shorts, pants, or towel. Somehow, the calendar is the only thing that will be able to raise the needed thousands.

While adjusting to the low cost of living and lack of a Kinko's, E.J. picks up a love interest in the one man most opposed to the calendar idea, sporting goods store owner Will Albrecht (Josh Hopkins, "Cougar Town"). At first, they naturally can't stand each other, but -- get this! -- over the course of the movie, they come to being unable to stand not being with one another. Is that a spoiler? No. There are no such things as spoilers to Lifetime movies, at least not ones as hackneyed as this.

Dressed for "ab-sailing" not abseiling, E.J. (Kristin Chenoweth) experiences dramatic fright on this Montana mountain descent.

"Hackneyed" is about the nicest way you could describe 12 Men of Christmas. This is such a stupid movie. I realize I'm not the gender that it's intended for, but if I were, I'd be appalled that this could be considered passable entertainment for my sex. Reviews are supposed to discuss strengths and weaknesses of a work, but I'm racking my brain for a positive quality to single out and can't come up with anything.
Nearly every moment of the movie deals with the vacant premise, which would be so offensive if the gender roles were reversed. Think: hotshot New York guy comes to the Northwest and persuades the local ladies to lay off the carbs and disrobe for the good of the community. Now that is something I'd like to see Lifetime try to make palatable.

Though Ms. Ashley's book has been adapted by a man, dramatic TV movie scribe Jon Maas (America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story), who also executive-produced, everything about the movie screams "woman's entertainment" in a way that gives that phrase an awful sound. You'd think the movie might stumble upon moments of warmth or humor, even unintentionally. No such luck. It is truly void of any discernible merit. Even those who might condone something wretched for being decent and clean won't really be able to vouch for the movie. Sure, the male nudity doesn't extend past the abdomen, but the scene where Will is supposed to be skinny-dipping and inexplicably exits to display his body to E.J. (every woman's dream!) is referenced again and again with anatomical innuendo. There is also the phrase "bone and disown."

You won't find a shred of irony in those "jokes" or anywhere else in 12 Men. What you will find is My Girl's Anna Chlumsky, adding to her In the Loop comeback. She plays E.J.'s guileless secretary, who is the object of the affections of a shy search and rescue guy (Jefferson Brown) who evidently doesn't do anything without Will's blessing. That is one thread that can be considered a subplot here. Another involves a deceitful long-haired fishing instructor (Stephen Huszar). If that doesn't put the Falalala into Falalala Lifetime, I don't know what does.


Clearly a modestly-budgeted production (on which Alberta, Canada stands in for Montana and Manhattan), 12 Men of Christmas was shot on digital video lacking the resolution of film. You can tell this in the DVD's movie-like presentation of 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Beyond not having the detail and clarity of big screen fare, the video offers no issue larger than the occasional faint grain (most noticeable in leased location shots). The soundtrack could just as well be plain 2.0 Dolby Surround as one doesn't notice any channel separation. There isn't much to the mix: the occasional bit of unidentifiable pop music and dialogue in which the filming location has more of a presence than most. The audio is clean and crisp enough, but not remotely commanding.

No conflict at all: I'm both confident in my sexuality and very proud of this December 2010 "12 Men of Christmas" calendar I created via my computer's DVD-ROM drive.


12 Men of Christmas contains just one DVD bonus feature, but it's a big enough deal for a shrinkwrap sticker to tout. "Create Your Own 12 Men of Christmas Calendar" requires a DVD-ROM drive and a program that can play a Flash application. The feature lets you make a single-month calendar by choosing one of six color schemes and one of the photos of the movie's twelve shirtless studs. You can make any month from 2010 to 2020 and even add custom text to any given day before printing. But you can't save what you've done and you are always limited to just those twelve shirtless men pics. I wonder if the actors knew this was a possibility when they signed up for this movie. At least it's creative and a reflection of the movie.

The DVD opens with promos for "Glee": The Complete First Season, "How I Met Your Mother": Season 5, and "Bones": The Complete Fifth Season.

The main menu animates a mild reformatting of the cover art to a loop of upbeat music.

Navigating Montana's country roads is a challenge for a New Yorker like E.J. (Kristin Chenoweth), or so the running gag tells us. I guess you say, what can make me feel this way? My girl (Anna Chlumsky), my girl (Anna Chlumsky), my girl (Anna Chlumsky), talkin' 'bout my girl (Anna Chlumsky) (my girl).


12 Men of Christmas was a lump of coal in television's stocking last year and it feels even worse on DVD,
removed from the low standards of basic cable movies. As a holiday movie fan, the title offends me for bearing no meaning to this production. It's like a committee decided it was worth the movie being ignored ten months out of the year in order for it to enjoy attention on TV and in retail for the other two. I must reiterate: this is not a Christmas movie. It's also not a good movie by any definition. It's very puzzling to me that an actress considered one of the best on the world's biggest stages is accepting Lifetime vehicles as awful as this. Is Kristin Chenoweth making bad choices or is there only so much that the industry is willing to offer a short, squeaky woman like her?

In case it isn't clear, 12 Men should be avoided for anything but a gag gift.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com / Buy the Book by Phillipa Ashley

Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed December 1, 2010.

Text copyright 2010 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2009 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Lisa Demberg Productions, Fox Television Studios, Lifetime Television,
and 2010 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.