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Christmas All Over Again DVD Review

Christmas All Over Again DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Christmas All Over Again
Movie & DVD Details

Director: Christy Carlson Romano / Writers: Brendan Rooney (screenplay); Richard Switzer, Christy Carlson Romano, George P. Saunders (story)

Cast: Sean Ryan Fox (Eddie Kirkpatrick), Armani Jackson (Taz), Christy Carlson Romano (Marilyn), Amber Montana (Cindy), Joey Lawrence (Magic Shoe Store Owner), Collin Smith (Zack), Gabriel Rush (Frankfurt), Christopher Gray (Brad), Massimo Dobrovic (Antonio Rinaldi), Tom DeNucci (Francisco Rinaldi), Wally Dunn (Mr. Kirkpatrick), Lindsey Blanchard (Clara), Lexi White (Sara), Tracy Michael Lynch (Santa), Joanna Koss (Jasmine), Chelsea Vale (Dana), Lous K. Johnson (Mrs. Fitzgerald), Kim Mulhauser (Waitress), Todrick Hall (Young Breezy)

Original Air Date: December 13, 2016 / Running Time: 79 Minutes / Rating: PG

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
DVD Release Date: December 13, 2016 / Suggested Retail Price: $19.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover

Buy Christmas All Over Again (2016) from Amazon.com DVD • Instant Video

Christmas All Over Again is very upfront in its opening narration about being a Christmas version of the classic Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day. That in itself is not unique. The Family Channel's 1996 movie Christmas Every Day starring Erik von Detten told basically the same story and it was unofficially remade ten years later in ABC Family's Christmas Do-Over.
But it's not like either of those is a holiday season staple in most households, so here we go again in this direct-to-video movie which has neither the decency nor the budget to feature the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song of the same name.

Eddie Kirkpatrick (Sean Ryan Fox) isn't the most upstanding of teenagers. Since his mother passed away, he's been undependable and materialistic. This Christmas, though his older brother Zack (Collin Smith) is going to marry his fiancιe Marilyn (Christy Carlson Romano), Eddie is a lot more interested in obtaining the Breezy 3000s in "ridiculous red." These sneakers are like the equivalent of Jordans...if Michael Jordan was known foremost for selling sneakers and rapped about the sneakers you just needed to own. Swaggy, self-centered Eddie picks up a pair of the pumped-up kicks from a pop-up shop, whose owner (Joey Lawrence) sees a teaching moment. That thinly-bearded owner draws an infinity symbol and with that, Eddie is stuck in a loop, resigned to relive the same Christmas Day over and over again.

Just like Bill Murray's meteorologist Phil Connors, Eddie sees some exciting possibilities in this gift, but comes to view it as a curse that needs to be broken. Whereas Connors was woken up every morning by Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe", Eddie is awoken by a dog fart. Connors used the repeating day to kill himself in a variety of ways and try, but fail to win the heart of his colleague Rita (Andie MacDowell). Eddie uses it to mess up Zack and Marilyn's wedding in a mixture of fashions and to try to get older girl Cindy (Amber Montana) to leave her lacrosse-playing boyfriend for him.

Stuck living Christmas Day over and over, Eddie Kirkpatrick (Sean Ryan Fox) thinks about the magic shoe salesman (Joey Lawrence) who got him stuck in this loop in "Christmas All Over Again."

This is standard issue fare for the always bustling direct-to-video holiday movie market. It's never graceful or terribly diverting. Eddie is one of the more obnoxious protagonists you'll find, making you wish for his redemption far less than grumpy Murray antiheroes and other Ebenezer Scrooges. Characters improbably reveal personal things to one another in a casual manner, with no attempt made to minimize such blatant exposition or make it believable. But, hey, it's short at least, clocking in at under 79 minutes with a slow end credits scroll.

Arguably the most remarkable thing about the movie is that it stands as the feature directing debut of Christy Carlson Romano. Millennials will know Romano best from her Noughties days on the Disney Channel as Ren Stevens of "Even Stevens" and the voice of animated heroine Kim Possible. As an actress, Romano tried reinventing herself in trashy horror flicks not getting anywhere near theaters, like Mirrors 2. Now, she's going a different route, taking credit here not only as actress and director, but also one of three story writers and five producers.

Twenty years in the business would seemingly qualify the 32-year-old Romano for behind-the-camera duties and she seems no better or worse suited to the work here than one of the interchangeable nobodies who would otherwise make this movie. I guess in theory this gig should remind her of "Even Stevens", but naturally it doesn't approach the heights of that highly enjoyable single-camera sitcom in which Shia LaBeouf got his start.

Christy Carlson Romano not only directed, produced, and wrote the movie, she also played half of a couple (along with Collin Smith) getting married on the repeated Christmas Day. The wedding planners, semi-Italian Rinaldi brothers Antonio (Massimo Dobrovic) and Francisco (Tom DeNucci), are comic relief.

Christmas All Over Again doesn't have many original or funny ideas. It fills its time with characters like the Rinaldi Brothers, a pair of Italian wedding planners, one of whom is effeminate and accented, the other a macho New York-type. There's a seed of a subplot investigating Eddie's casual bigotry to the planners, referring to them by Italian names that are not theirs. There's also a disoriented old woman he tells he's a cyborg in one of the instances in which the wedding gets spoiled.

Seemingly suited to filling a couple of commercial-heavy hours in one of basic cable's many holiday programming blocks, Christmas All Over Again instead hits DVD today from Lionsgate.
Recognizing the role that photogenic dogs often play in these types of movies, the artwork makes the gas-passing canine the star in a strategic and altogether disingenuous design.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Were it made back in the '90s, Christmas All Over Again would have rocked a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and 2.0 stereo soundtrack. Today, though, it employs the now-standard 1.78:1 widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Neither picture nor sound surpasses one's expectations for a low-budget cookie cutter production like this. The anamorphic video is fine for standard definition, though not terribly sharp or detailed. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack kind of feels like a monaural mix piped to all five speakers. English and Spanish subtitles are supplied. Let's be honest: no one is watching this to give their home theater an A/V workout.

Computer-animated insects live life in live-action backdrops in four curiously included shorts from the French TV series "Minuscule." The "Christmas All Over Again" menu relies on the same deceptive artwork as the cover.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The DVD's extras begin -- and practically end -- with four "Minuscule" bonus episodes. What is "Minuscule"? Research tells me it's an animated French Disney Channel TV series that looks at the

life of insects from a bird's eye point of view with no dialogue. Your guess is just as good as mine as to why we get these 2006 shorts now and here.

"It Never Rains But It Pours" (5:46) looks at snails during and after a rainstorm. "The Wild Bunch" (5:37) sees a ladybug dare a pack of flies to try to catch her (or him). In "Goofing Off" (5:39), an ant tries to sneak off from work to catch a nap. "Bless You" (5:09) follows a spider with a cold whose attempts to hunt a fly are set back by her sneezing.

Somehow, Christmas All Over Again has its trailer (2:06) included, a courtesy extended to far too few new films, including most Lionsgate ones.

"Also from Lionsgate" repeats the ominous disc-opening trailers for the Martin Sheen-narrated Amazonia, Joey Lawrence's Arlo the Burping Pig, Elephant Kingdom, The Adventures of Panda Warrior, and My Best Friend.

The scored main menu animates snow in a screen-filling variation of the misleading cover. Submenus recycle the same elements minus the music and animation.

The black eco-friendly keepcase is topped by an embossed slipcover. Across from the plain gray disc, it holds an insert describing and touting the four Minuscule shorts (but not explaining their presence here).

Eddie Kirkpatrick (Sean Ryan Fox), seen with his friend Taz (Armani Jackson), gets to relive Christmas Day in "Christmas All Over Again."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If I remember anything about Christmas All Over Again, it would be a surprise. This family-oriented Christmas comedy is, like many of these sorts of movies, formulaic, broad, and dumb. Aside from the completely deceptive cover art, it's not really offensive. There's obviously a market for these types of productions or else they wouldn't continue to make them, so if you find yourself without cable and Netflix this holiday season and looking for a new yet familiar comfort you can put on as background noise, this basic DVD certainly fits the bill. Otherwise, you can just watch Groundhog Day again.

Buy Christmas All Over Again (2016) from Amazon.com DVD / Instant Video

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Reviewed December 13, 2016.



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