A Date By Christmas Eve (2019)

A Date By Christmas Eve doesn’t have much going for it. In fact, star Vanessa Lengies is about the only reason to watch this movie about a woman whose life goes topsy-turvy when she starts using an enchanted dating app. Chelsea (Lengies), a developer or marketer of some sorts, gives said app a makeover, redesigning the interface and substituting swipes for naughty and nice lists. When a colleague steals her idea and her promotion though, she gets some help from a mysterious Mrs. Kringle (Morgan Fairchild).

Lengies holds the movie together and makes Chelsea an instantly likable and sympathetic lead. The actor elevates her character to more than the basic nice girl. Chelsea can be generous to a fault, giving in to the whims of her needy roommate, Keegan (Katherine Bailess), and putting in double time to finish her work, but she’s also not the hapless pushover she could have been. While easily persuaded, she stands up for herself when it matters, even if she’d rather avoid a confrontation. After learning her boyfriend, Rod (Taylor Frey), is playing the field, on her app no less, she dumps the guy. Then she finds the gumption to call out her coworker, Blythe (Julie McNiven), when she passes off Chelsea’s upgrade ideas as her own.

The poor woman can’t get a break, until she meets the model for the app’s ad campaign. Mrs. Kringle sprinkles some of her magic Santa dust, and suddenly getting on Chelsea’s naughty or nice list has real consequences. Chelsea’s wishes for her friends and foes start to come true. Rod, for example, begins to appreciate her in ways he never did while they were dating, and Keegan breaks out in her new and confident self. While well intentioned though, these wishes lead to unexpected and not entirely welcome changes in Chelsea’s personal and professional life. They also wreak havoc on her relationship with her super nice and chill neighbor, Fisher (Evan Williams), the guy who clearly is the one for her.

It takes a while for Chelsea to see that, and meanwhile, watching the movie is just waiting for the script to hit all the marks. This is a tidy story in which every character neatly defined by their one or two signature characteristics. Chelsea finds a way to contain the mess, and things wrap up in a predictable but satisfying conclusion. Aside from Lengies’s performance though, there’s nothing special about this film. Chelsea’s kindness doesn’t resonate in any larger way. This story will warm you, since most stories about the sweet girl who tries to do some good and then has to patch things up when they backfire would, but the feeling disappears as soon as the movie’s over.

Alt Title: The Naughty List
Released: 2019
Dir: Jake Helgren
Writer: Jake Helgren
Cast: Vanessa Lengies, Evan Williams, Katherine Bailess, Julie McNiven, Morgan Fairchild, Nikki Soohoo,Taylor Frey, Michelle Mitchenor, Ashley Holliday Tavares
Time: 93 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Lifetime
Reviewed: 2020