Pete's Second Chances
Fourteen year old Pete Kidder (Zachary Gordon) is having a Christmas to forget; his recently widowed, grumpy grandfather (Bruce Dern) has shown up with his parents insisting the family give him a wonderful Christmas, he gets blamed when his older brother causes the Christmas tree to fall down, Christmas dinner is ruined, his parents forget to buy him a present and much more. But to make things worse when he wakes up the next day it is Christmas day all over again and he has to live through the hell of it all again and again. Eventually Pete realises that by reliving the same day again and again he can change it for the better and not just for him but also his grandfather as well as the new girl next door Katie (Bailee Madison).
Three movies spring to mind as I watched "Pete's Christmas" and I will start with the least obvious of them. With Pete suffering a Christmas to forget where his parents even forget to buy him a present and he ends up humiliated it was a little but like "Sixteen Candles". And this was combined with some "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" partly thanks to this movie starring Zachary Gordon but also because there is that similarity where things continually don't go to plan for Pete.
But of course there is the third movie and the most obvious one as we have yet another Christmas movie which uses the whole "Groundhog Day" theme of getting to live the same day over and over again. As such after an unspecified number of days we get to watch Pete change the way Christmas day plays out from making the initial meeting with new neighbour Katie less embarrassing to not getting the blame for when his brother pulls down the Christmas tree, although it takes him a few attempts to get things right and realise the point of all these second chances.
Now for some the fact that "Pete's Christmas" uses the repeating day theme will be a groan factor and some might call it nothing more than a rip-off of "Groundhog Day" but it is surprisingly entertaining. Much of that comes down to Zachary Gordon who manages to start the movie with the right level of moody negativity but then make Pete's evolution into someone who then becomes cocky before appreciating the gift he has been given. And young Gordon works well with Bruce Dern as well as Bailee Madison who gives the movie her usual bubbly performance but also a nice sensitivity once that bubbliness melts away.
What this all boils down to is that "Pete's Christmas" turned out to be a pleasant surprise and a bit of a charmer. So it may not have an original idea but it works those familiar ideas as well as it can to deliver plenty of "Groundhog Day" style entertainment.