'Christmas Eve': Film Review

Makes actually getting stuck in an elevator seem pleasurable by comparison.

Various groups of people get stuck in Manhattan elevators on the titular holiday in Mitch Davis' holiday-themed ensemble comedy.

There's an important lesson to be learned from the new ensemble film Christmas Eve.

If a film's opening credit reads "Presented by Larry King," run screaming for the hills.

The venerable talk show host and his wife, Shawn King, are among the producers of this cinematic trifle that proves yet again that Christmas is responsible for more bad movies than any other holiday on the planet.

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In this film inexplicably not directed by Garry Marshall, the story is set during — well, you know — a night when a hapless deliveryman smashes his truck into a generator in Central Park. The ensuing power outage traps various groups of people in elevators around the neighborhood.

Yes, it's a film about people stuck in elevators ... never seen that before. What will they think of next?

It feels obligatory to describe the major characters, although believe me, it's a chore. They include a Scrooge-like business tycoon (Patrick Stewart, in full macho mode) who's trapped in a construction elevator outside his newest building and who discovers that bullying his employees doesn't hasten his rescue; a tech support guy (Jon Heder) stuck with the HR manager (Max Casella) who just fired him; a photographer (James Roday) who ignites romantic sparks with a shy paralegal (Julianna Guill); an atheist doctor (Gary Cole) debating theology with a nurse (Shawn King, Larry's wife, and so the mystery is solved) after having performed a failed operation on a young harpist with a heart condition; a group of orchestra musicians, including one (Cheryl Hines) who keeps a handgun in her bra; and a ragtag group including a clean-freak art curator (Steve John Shepherd) and a musclebound hunk wearing a skimpy Santa costume.

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As the long, long, long night breaks into day, absolutely nothing of interest happens, unless you include the orchestra musicians playing an impromptu rendition of "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

Alternately attempting to tug at the heartstrings and to garner laughs, the film written and directed by Mitch Davis (The Other Side of Heaven) strains for thematic depth by ultimately revealing previously unknown relationships between the characters in the different elevators. Since we haven't come to care about any of them, none of it matters.

Although it's set in Manhattan, the film was shot entirely in Bulgaria. Amazingly, not only do the exterior locations look completely inauthentic but the interior elevator shots do as well.

Production: KEB Entertainment

Distributor: Amplify Releasing

Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jon Heder, James Roday, Cheryl Hines, Max Casella, Julianna Guill, Shawn King, Gary Cole

Director/screenwriter: Mitch Davis

Producers: Mitch Davis, ken Bretschneider, Larry King, Shawn King

Director of photography: Ty Arnold

Production designer: Axel Cicolet

Editors: Steven Ramirez, Danny Ramirez

Costume designer: Djanina Baikousheva

Composer: Christian Davis

Casting: Jory Weitz, Gillian Hauser

Rated PG, 95 min.