There is probably a reason why Pride and Prejudice remains one of the most widely adapted books, and it is surely something to do with the witty banter, spunky heroins and attractive (and hard-to-get) male protagonists, who must eventually fall in love. This formula is most recently applied to 12 Men of Christmas, a 2009 Lifetime made-for-TV movie starring one of today’s biggest stage divas, Kristin Chenoweth, now on DVD.
From Manhattan to Kalispell
Chenoweth plays E.J. Baxter, a capable and busy New York publicist, who soon loses her fiancé, her job and her security and is forced to take a job opportunity in Kalispell, Montana. With the help of her new assistant Jan (Anna Chlumsky), it is her job to lure corporate retreats to the sleepy town. She could do the job in her sleep, however, there is a certain Will Albrecht (Josh Hopkins) whose arrogance can only be matched by her own. However, when E.J. starts persuading the local search and rescue team to pose shirtless for a Christmas calendar, Will goes from an annoyance to a pest.
Although not too original (except for Pride and Prejudice, the movie also employs a large number of romantic comedy clichés), 12 Men of Christmas is still an enjoyable movie and a great choice for Christmas viewing. Although there is a sexy scene or two, it never comes even close to being visually or verbally explicit. The movie pushes a positive message of body acceptance. In other words, it is a great family movie, spiced up infinitely by its stars.
Kristin & Co.
Chenoweth is at the top of her game here, sweet and energetic at the same time, much like her well-known character of Glinda in the Broadway musical Wicked. It should especially be noted that despite the usual Simple Life set up of the movie, neither she nor the tone is condescending to inhabitants of rural America. Chenoweth is best, however, when coupled with Hopkins, who is not only a hunk, but also proves his leading man capability.
The pairing of Chenoweth and Hopkins nearly manages to save the whole movie, but the final result is problematic. The large cast of secondary characters ultimately seems irrelevant and the few subplots that are introduced during the course of the film are quickly solved or brushed off. Finally, some of the scenes feel contrived or silly, though in the movie of this range and genre, it hardly seems to matter.
What matters however, is that 12 Men of Christmas is enjoyable from start to finish. Although the major plot points in the movie do occur at Christmas, it can easily be enjoyable year round for anyone who is into some sweet entertainment, featuring one of the sweetest actresses of today.