Nell Blakemore (Anne Heche) is trying to make her first post-divorce Christmas a happy one for her children Emma and Alden (Ali Skovbye and Griffin Kane). When Cesar (Carlos Gomez) tries to abandon on their doorstep a puppy in a gift box that was earlier abandoned at his work, he slips and breaks his ankle. Everyone then heads to the ER where the kids bond with the puppy inside their illegally parked SUV. Nell balances forms and a strict admitting nurse to try to get care for Cesar — which is provided by really great, and single, Dr. Chen (Brian Tee).
A cascade of misadventures befall the Blakemores, Cesar, and hospital guard Reggie (Kevin Daniels) that include broken bones, robbery, sinking an SUV into a lake, and burning down a police station. Eventually, with Dr. Chen’s help, everyone finds their way back to Nell’s home for a diverse Christmas feast with new friends.
This was an interesting departure for a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. Usually they are tight dramas that lead to an emotional conclusion. Here, we instead get an attempted farce that came off as darker than was probably intended. Dark not because of the subject matter, but dark because of the non-farcical injuries and events (broken ankle, broken arm, broken knee, robbed at gunpoint, nearly dying in a fire).
Also in a departure for HHoF, the movie didn’t really have a plot. It’s a series of misadventures that culminate in the bonding of a refreshingly diverse cast of characters. While the antagonist is clear: the cursed devil spawn beagle puppy; any drama is situational and not thematic. Even the goal to return home is rather weak.
But let’s get back to the dog. On more than one occasion, it was noted that the puppy was not at all lucky and might be cursed. This might indeed be the case. Why was he dropped off at Cesar’s work in the first place? By whom? What sorts of tragedies befell the previous owners? Some might hold that it’s all coincidence. I did too, except for two events: 1) the hungry puppy didn’t eat any of the dropped chocolates, no doubt because it couldn’t be sick when it 2) just got up in the middle of the night to wrestle the police station’s Christmas tree so as to start a fire. No…I don’t think it was an accident. It was a calculated act by, yes, a cursed devil spawn puppy.
One Christmas Eve is a well-acted movie with a lot of entertaining sequences. While it’s hurt by a lack of a strong plot, it’s nonetheless filled with moments that are entertaining and characters you root for (Nell sooooo needs to date dreamy Dr. Chen). If you just go along for the ride and don’t expect the depth that usually comes with a HHoF offering, you’ll probably find yourself entertained.
|3.75 of 5|
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies
Photo Credit: Erik Heinila