I thought this film was called 12 Dates of Christmas which filled me with some mild excitement. I imagined it was going to be about a woman who goes on 12 dates with each being worst than the last. In the end, her true love is the guy who arranged the dates or some other schmaltz. I was really looking forward to 12 awful dates. But upon preparing to write this, I realized that the title was actually On the 12th Date of Christmas and that the synopsis is nothing like what I dreamt.
Two seemingly incompatible game designers team up to create a romantic, city-wide scavenger hunt themed for the “12 Days of Christmas.” Starring Mallory Jansen and Tyler Hynes.
Long story short, I’m already disappointed. Much like the 12 suitors of the film I made up in my mind, this movie has no chance.
Our Hallmark Heroine Jen has just baked some delicious cookies. Her roommate tries to eat one, but Jen quickly slaps her hand away. She then expositions that she’s close to nabbing that Head Game Creator role and that the cookies are a thank you to her boss for putting in a good word with the higher-ups for her.
Jen arrives at her office, filled with Christmas cheer.
We cut to our male lead Aiden who has just helped his sister with a plumbing problem. Now done with his manly duties, he heads to the office and asks his sister and niece to wish him good luck on his big meeting.
Back at the office, Jen is told that her boss literally quit his job last night. She’s disheartened as this dude was the possible ticket to her dream job. Jen will have to speak with the head honcho about the promotion. The film has told us twice already that she’s terrible at speaking up for herself, so this isn’t a positive development. She opts to write an email instead. This is relatable.
Meanwhile, Aiden, a co-worker, and the head honcho go to the big pitch meeting. Aiden begins presenting the company’s scavenger hunt app to a big client when the co-worker gets word that his wife is in labor. Dude shouts in horror about it and runs off the property.
With one presenter down, the head honcho has to quickly find someone to cover. Thankfully, Jen is walking up the stairs. He drags the woman into a pitch presentation she has not been properly briefed on.
This is Jen’s chance to make a big splash. She manages to impress the client by quietly suggesting ideas. The result? A scavenger hunt idea centered on lovey-dovey locations in romantic Chicago.
After the meeting, the boss says that Jen is now Aiden’s new partner on the project. The guy is pretty miffed that he has to work with the lady that upstaged him.
Aiden calms himself down by hanging out with his sister and niece. We learn that he is a military brat and his dad will soon be out of some sort of care. Aiden and his sister want to move him into the family home. However, Aiden’s sister is worried they will need to sell the house because it is falling apart, but Aiden is convinced that he’ll get the Head Game Creator job which will solve everything.
The next day, due to a misunderstanding, the client wants Aiden and Jen to deliver ideas to her by 2pm, so the reluctant couple must work even harder together.
Aiden is difficult and stupid and I hate him. Jen literally shouts her credentials at him to prove her worth in an effort to get him to start collaborating with her. This is a nightmare. They split up until it’s time to meet the client.
At the hotel, Aiden discovers that the client is directly texting Jen. This is a blow to his huge ego. Jen tries to smooth over the relationship and communicates that she understands that Aiden feels more comfortable working alone. Yep, it’s up to her to understand her partner and empathize. Gotta say, I’m getting pretty irked with this whole setup! Her attempts work and he starts warming up.
While they wait in the dining room for their client, the chef tries to nudge them together. It’s uncomfortable.
The pair realizes they haven’t come up with 24 ideas like the client requested. Unfortunately, time is up and she arrives. They come up with concepts on the fly that manage to impress the lady. She takes Jen aside and says to be more confident in herself.
Jen takes her newfound confidence to approach the boss for the Head Game Creator role. She takes a chance and pours her heart into a grand speech that communicates her passion for creating games.
The next day, Jen and Aiden continue to “brainstorm” ideas. It’s pretty much an excuse for them to visit a ton of restaurants and boutiques and expense it. Their first stop is a wine bar where they take a few swigs and partake in a painting class. Once done painting, they go to lunch at a fancy restaurant and decide it should be part of the scavenger hunt, too. They then do an impromptu baking class. These guys are the ultimate scammers and I respect that.
Aiden and Jen are getting on. Enough so, that Jen decides to drop into Aiden’s niece’s school fundraiser to surprise her partner. Everyone thinks that they should hook up.
On one of their romantic excursions where they likely charged their hot cocoas to the company, Aiden reveals that he also put in for the Head Game Creator job. He wants her to know that she is well-suited for it, but he’s gotta get it for his family. The raise will fix the house, after all.
With their brainstorming done, they present the final idea to the client. She’s thrilled and wants to show it off to the CEO.
The boss takes Aiden aside to ask him to attend a special meeting. The potential new Head Game Creator quickly runs over to Jen to let her know he can’t do lunch because of this impromptu meetup. Jen gives him her blessing on being crowned the new Head Game Creator.
Once alone with the boss, Aiden immediately dives a speech about how Jen should have the job. The boss basically says “Yeah, I was gonna give it to her anyway.” This takes the dude aback. Remember the guy that quit at the beginning of the film? Well, the boss wants to give Aiden that role. It still comes with a solid raise that’s equal to the Head Game Creator, so we all win. The boss won’t be telling Jen about her new position until the end of the scavenger hunt, though.
Jen arrives home to a surprise visit from her grandmother while Aiden meets with a benevolent contractor that wants to help him fix the family house. Things are coming up Milhouse here.
The scavenger hunt launches and it’s a hit. Jen and Grandma attend the shindig at the hotel and just as Jen is about to say she’s going back to Iowa, the boss interrupts to let her know she’s got the big job. Jen says BYE to Iowa again.
But what about the love story? Well, at the start of the event, Aiden gave Jen a note which she finally opens. It contains a bespoke clue asking for a 13th date. They meet in the cold, surrounded by flammable Christmas trees. Aiden literally says “I like you a lot” and Jen shuts the rest of his speech up with a kiss. FIN.
Aiden really irritated me at the start but I was ok with him by the film’s end. Although one could argue that he found Jen worthy of work once he started liking her. So, I’m not sure what to say here. It all felt a bit work sexist which is a bit too real for Hallmark!
Jen didn’t annoy me so much which is always a big positive in these films. After watching this, Jen’s decoration overload really didn’t line up with her actual personality. She was normal, not one of the super Christmas creeps. I’m not certain why they introduced the character in that way.
Apart from the strange abrupt ending, it was fine.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Chicago Deep Dish Pizzas
- The male actor (Tyler Hynes) often plays “cads” in these Hallmark films. See The Mistletoe Secret.
- I don’t really understand why they chose romantic locations for Christmas. Who is this hotel’s target audience?
- Anyone wanna be my mentor? I also lack confidence!
- Jen experiences a bit of tension with her family. They want her back in Iowa and she wants to continue pursuing a career in Chicago. Every time she talks on the phone with them, they crap all over Chicago.
- I wonder what happened to the people who didn’t solve the scavenger hunt.