(director: Luke Snellin; screenwriters: Victoria Strouse/Laura Solon/Kay Cannon/based on the book by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle; cinematographer: Jeff Cutter; editor: Evan Henke; music: Keegan DeWitt; cast: Isabela Merced (Julie), Shameik Moore (Stuart), Mitchell Hope (Tobin), D’Arcy Carden (Kira), Liv Hewson (Dorrie), Odeya Rush (Addie), JoanCusack (Tin Foil Woman), Jacob Batalon (Keon), Miles Robbins (Billy), Anna Akana (Kerry), Matthew Noszka (JP), Kiernan Shipka (The Duke), Jamie Champ agne (Pete Reston), Jon Champagne (Chad Reston), Andrea De Oliveira (Debbie), Mason Gooding (Jeb), Victor Rivers (Pops), Genevieve DeGraves (Jessica), Hallea Jones (Madison); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Dylan Clark/Alexa Faigan; Netflix; 2019)

“A likable cast does justice to this cheesy teenage X-mas rom-com tale.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A likable cast does justice to this cheesy teenage X-mas rom-com tale, blandly directed by Brit TV filmmaker Luke Snellin (“Wanderlust”/”My Mad Fat Diary”). It’s based on the book by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle and is lamely co-written by Snellin, Kay Cannon, Victoria Strouse and, the Brit comic, Laura Solon. Heavy on banal dialogue, lacking plot development and saddled with a dull narrative, the tiresome film just melts away before its story-line is predictably resolved.

A blizzard hits the small town of Laurel, Illinois, on Christmas Eve, as a group of vulnerable high school teens will try to come together to party that night.

The introverted senior Julie (Isabela Merced) meets black pop star Stuart (Shameik Moore) on a train and the two spend the day together and begin a cautious affair.

Tobin (Mitchell Hope) spends the day avoiding telling his best friend, The Duke (Kiernan Shipka), that he’s in love with her and grows increasingly jealous of her friend JP (Matthew Noszka).

Best friends Dorrie (Liv Hewson) and Addie (Odeya Rush) get into a verbal fight and separate. Dorrie runs into a girl she has feelings for, Kerry (Anna Akana), who’s giving Dorrie mixed signals. Meanwhile, Addie is trying to track down her boyfriend who’s not responding to texts. So she winds up getting a ride and a lecture from the town’s resident eccentric, the wise Tin Foil Woman (Joan Cusack), who is the town’s snowplow driver and the one in town who seemingly knows best how important Christmas Eve is when growing up. She delivers a wretched monologue spouting some nonsense that says “It’s the eve of everything, of the rest of your life.”

Eventually after following this group of bland teens around town, the tension is relieved in favor of the Christmas spirit when all the above teens get their problems neatly resolved and all wind up together at a Christmas Eve party thrown by Keon (Jacob Batalon).

The holiday film has the jejune feel of an ’80s teen comedy made for Generation Z.

REVIEWED ON 1/21/2020  GRADE: C  https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/