12 Men of Christmas (2009)

December 7, 2011

Lifetime, this piece of yuletide fluff aired on television a couple of years
ago billed as a book-to-screen adaption. Not something likely to disappoint, this
is most definitely one of my most favorite flicks. 

She didn’t get where she is by being a meek “girl” about everything. No, this
career-driven woman doesn’t have the word “no” or its description in her
vocabulary. On the fast lane towards success, E.J. Baxter (Kristin Chenoweth)
got to where she is by taking control – refusing to be told “no.” Her
engagement was even at her insistence when, instead of being a total girl about it, she took the initiative
and proposed marriage to her equally career-minded fiancé. A New York publicist
who knows, not only how to work her clients but wow her boss, E.J. is counting
on having one of the best Christmases she’s had in years… but that is when
things come to a halt. When she finds her fiancé and boss making out, her
reaction is to break the heel off a thousand dollar pair of pumps, which in
turn, gets her unceremoniously fired.

Depressed and
alone during the holidays, E.J. lets her sister, Roz (Erin Dilly) talk her into
accepting the only job she can find… in Montana! Feeling stranded and miles
from civilization, E.J. is brought in by the small-town mayor to lure
businesses there for their corporate retreats. Ideas are slim, until
inspiration strikes when she sees the local search-and-rescue team’s small
fundraising events for new equipment – why not sell calendars of the 13
gorgeous men posing… naked? With
opposition coming from nearly all of the men, E.J. and her assistant / local /
friend, Jan (Anna Chlumsky) find their task a difficult one but when it comes
to matters of the heart, E.J. just may have met her match in the annoying,
stubborn, Will Albright (Josh Hopkins). Seeing no point to the ridiculous
scheme, Will is proud to be holding up production – but then… there are 13 members on the team and the calendar
only needs 12 faces.

From there, we follow E.J.’s yearlong quest to take the “lemons” she was handed and make life into something… better. It’s a story that while familiar to many (resulting from rom-com clichés), it may not register with some of us because we are blinded by the potential immoralities. For Austen fans this is loosely based off her iconic Pride & Prejudice, this is far from its stage presence but noticeably does borrow facts and plots from it. What I liked about that was how well writers wove into the script all the high points from the opposites-attract classic novel while still being true to its own originality. But, right down to characters names (even the ever-popular “pond scene” is included. *smile*) do we encounter the parallels. Originally a novel titled Decent Exposure, everything about its premise would suggest the possibility for a plethora of suggestive material. Here, the re-named telefilm has a fabulous sense of humor, whether in homage to Miss Austen or at the hands of talented writers is anyone’s guess but it allows the script to shine as a “crowing achievement.” Penned by a British author is likely where hints of Pride & Prejudice appear, and being a viewer who wants to love the characters, a vital part to any story, these sparkle with their own kind of pizzazz but also having been inspired by Lizzie Bennet (E.J. is a spunky heroine), Will Darcy (the bane of E.J.’s existence… at first) and George Wickham (a womanizing jerk in the form of “Jason”). Nearly all the characters are likable but not without flaws. The battles of wits and wills are just the beginning to this story – there is a timid romance and good-natured humor, something that makes everyone entertaining.

This is one movie that is actually better than it gives itself credit for. Cast, producers, and its director carry it well – though not grand as a sweeping epic would be the cinematography consists of wide-open spaces that are nothing if not picturesque; Montana being where the majority of the film takes place allows cameras to feature outdoor activities amidst waterfalls and wild scenery, something that adds even more charm to the overall picture of the movie. While overplayed too much in the talk of its release, some may find the premise ridiculous or “offensive” to their personal choices. And if you do have misgivings, the DVD is probably best left on the shelf. For me, I was pleased at the outcome, discovering that compared to many of the romantic comedies that I own, this is “clean.” Much ado is made about the men posing naked – most of them have misgivings about it, and refuse; some on principal, others just to back their fellow members. (Most declare it a “tacky” gimmick – E.J. wants it done “tastefully.”) A fresh spin on a new Christmas flick always makes me smile, and casting Kristin Chenoweth may have helped since she has a natural flair for comedy. No matter what it was that won me over, either way, I was tickled to see this hitting store shelves.
(Be aware: jokes
are bantered about in regards to being proud to display the “wares” or the guys
taking some ribbing for posing. As it turns out, nearly all of them are clothed
in pants from the waist down [one is shot in a hot tub, another merely wears a
towel]. During her annual company Christmas party, E.J. finds her fiancé with
her boss [all we see is the two of them falling out of a stall onto the floor
where Noah is buckling his pants]. Some minor conversations revolve around his
cheating, and that of a past falling out between two friends over one of the
man’s fiancée. Later we assume E.J. and Will were intimate; she is dressed in
his shirt only, while he is shirtless. Nearer the beginning, E.J. finds Will
swimming in the nude – he emerges nude [implied]. Basically non-existent,
profanity makes rare appearances – a**hole, d**n and an “oh, my god.”) 


  • Ruth

    December 11, 2011 at 1:27 am

    Thanks for the link! I really do like this little film, it cracks me up! :)

  • Rissi

    December 11, 2011 at 5:30 am

    You are welcome, Ruth!

    I saw your review after seeing the movie for the 1st time, and your thoughts were pretty much mine – I think this is an adorable flick fueled by the fact that I think Kristin is so cute. =) I just re-watched it a week ago and still LOVE it.

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