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ChristmasEve ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewKernel Rating (out of 5): half popcorn kernal

MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 95 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. ‘Christmas Eve’ follows a number of different characters on the titular night and eventually reveals connections between them. Some sexual tension between a couple of characters, materializing in flirting and a kiss, as well as some genitalia-themed jokes, the shooting of a gun numerous times for laughs, and some bathroom humor, including a running gag about flatulence.

The movies-based-on-holidays trend continues with ‘Christmas Eve,’ which has so many cliches and stereotypes that it feels like a lump of coal in your holiday movie stocking.

By Roxana Hadadi

Which holiday will be next as a movie inspiration? At this point, we’ve suffered through “Valentine’s Day,” “New Year’s Eve,” and now “Christmas Eve,” which follows the same formula as the previous two: people who wouldn’t normally get along are stuck together, forced to reconcile their misconceptions about each other, in storylines that divide up the movie’s flow. Is it a Christmas miracle? Not in the least.

Set in New York City but obviously filmed in low-budget sets elsewhere -- the setting reflects the quality of the film from the very beginning, frankly -- “Christmas Eve” follows disparate pairs of characters who are stuck in elevators together when a delivery truck crashes into a Central Park generator, cutting off electricity throughout Manhattan. Of course, each pair has fundamental differences, and there’s always a wrong party to a wronged one. How else would the film get its obvious messages across?

The characters include Harris (Patrick Stewart, of “X-Men: Days of Future Past”), a maniacal business tycoon who has no time for anyone, including his own employees and the people who come to save him from the elevator; nonreligious Dr. Roberts (Gary Cole, of “Tammy”) arguing about religion with faithful Nurse Byrnes (Shawn King); IT guy James (Jon Heder), stuck with human resources manager Randy (Max Casella, of "Blue Jasmine"), who just fired him, and so on. The film jumps between the various pairings, working toward a reveal of how these individuals are interrelated.

Getting to the bottom of those connections is supposedly the appeal of “Christmas Eve,” but it’s a thin one -- almost nonexistent. That theoretical payoff doesn’t make up for the preceding waste of time, which includes such unpalatable subplots as a photographer bullying a woman into posing for portraits because he finds her attractive, even though she doesn’t want to participate; a musician shooting a gun in an enclosed space, putting numerous people in danger for no reason other than audience laughs; and of course the atheist surgeon finding religion.

This is all supposed to be enlightening, to somehow demonstrate the true, God-focused meaning behind Christmas, but “Christmas Eve” starts off with a stereotype -- the Hispanic driver of the delivery truck that has “Deus ex Machina” written on it crashes because he’s trying to retrieve a Virgin Mary statue that fell off his dashboard -- and just gets progressively more simplistic from there. “Christmas Eve” attempts to be about divine intervention, but someone -- anyone, heavenly or not -- should have interfered with this movie before it assaulted the holiday season.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.

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