Patrick Stewart, Jon Heder, Cheryl Hines, Gary Cole
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There’s simply too much going in such a short running time…
When a car accident causes a blackout out in New York, several groups of people find themselves stranded in elevators on Christmas Eve. Like Gary Marshall’s holiday themed trilogy (which included the recent Mother’s Day), Christmas Eve is an ensemble piece of recognisable faces including Patrick Stewart (X-Men), Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Gary Cole (Veep).
Counting down the hours until they can be rescued, each elevator becomes a microcosm of introspection as the separate groups share what the holidays are truly all about. And Christmas Eve is certainly under no delusions about who the true spirit of Christmas is, even if at times it’s a little coy. Perhaps not wanting to be pegged in with other devotional dramas such as God Is Not Dead, director and writer, Mitch David, never lets his characters utter the G-word, but from atheist to bodybuilders, they all end up agreeing that there’s a higher force guiding us all.
Certainly in no way a reason to scoff at the film – the virtue of cinema is that it can give everyone a voice – Christmas Eve’s problems stem from it bursting at the seams with characters. There’s the group of white collar workers, the will-they-won’t-they couple, the dying woman and the surgeon, and there’s even time for a throwback to A Christmas Carol, with the aforementioned Stewart playing a Scrooge-like businessman forced to spend his evening alone in an elevator likely to plummet to the ground.
There’s simply too much going in such a short running time, and it shows through flat characterisations and clunky dialogue. With so much happening to so many, there’s never any time to get comfortable with anyone. And when you have Captain Picard monologuing to high heaven, that is a crying shame.