After last week’s non-Christmasy Christmas movie A Country Christmas Story, I think Lifetime was maybe overcompensating a little with their new movie The Twelve Trees of Christmas. Its plot was eerily similar to a stress dream I once had when I binged on an entire box of candy canes and fell asleep with You’ve Got Mail on in the background. The same thing must have happened to the writers.
Our heroine is Cheri (Lindy Booth), a librarian who was created when a scientist crossed Shelley Long with Bambi and dressed the resulting creature in a bunch of cardigans. Her hobbies include reading, talking about reading, and smiling. She’s devastated to learn that her beloved Manhattan library, where her father taught her to smell books, is set to be demolished.
What a coincidence that the man planning to tear it down, the grandson of the woman who founded the neighborhood, lives in her building. Tony (Robin Dunne) and his boss Charles (Casper Van Dien) have been planning to build a high-rise apartment building there. Charles is only in two scenes, which is a real shame, considering he spends his screen time imitating Christian Bale as Batman and delivering lines about how libraries are graveyards for words from the past.
In case you haven’t already guessed, Cheri and Tony are very different. Cheri views the world through Disney-colored glasses, defining success as doing what you love and helping people (gross). Tony, on the other hand, defines success as money, money and more money. Naturally, they’re often thrown in the same room together — even in an elevator at one point — and spend every scene arguing with each other while suppressing the desire to kiss.
Cheri has an “aha moment” (slow down there, Oprah) and decides the best way to save the library is to have a contest among the regulars in which they decorate Christmas tress inspired by the libary. I guess rich people’s greed can be cured at the sight of adorable Christmas trees. Or something. She convinces Tony’s grandmother Mrs. Shaughnessy to judge the competition. Much to Cheri’s over-the-top dismay, Tony signs up to decorate his own tree, but of course he’ll have help from his decorator friend Cordelia.
Enter Mel B, whose performance is seriously lacking in animal print and “zig-a-zig-ah.” Cordelia has a thing for Tony and will do anything to win the contest for him, including stealing Cheri’s tree idea, which was already pretty manipulative in itself. Cheri gets inspired to decorate a tree with traditional Irish crystal to give Mrs. Shaughnessy — who is extremely Irish, in case the name didn’t give it away — a nostalgia attack and convince her to change her mind about tearing down the library. Just when she’s convinced a shop owner to let her borrow a bunch of crystal on Christmas Eve, Cordelia swoops in and buys out the shop.