(2014) (Kirk Cameron, Darren Doane) (PG)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Drama: Kirk Cameron helps his brother-in-law understand the Biblical meanings behind common Christmas symbols and traditions that otherwise don't seem to have a direct connection to the birth of Christ.
- Kirk Cameron (KIRK CAMERON) loves Christmas and everything about it. Thus, while at a Christmas party thrown by his sister (BRIDGETTE RIDENOUR), he's concerned to hear that his brother-in-law, Christian (DARREN DOANE), is acting like Scrooge. Not because he doesn't believe in Christmas or that he's a bad guy. Instead, it's that he doesn't see the connection between common Christmas symbols and traditions that fill most Christian homes and the birth of Christ. Kirk then sets out to show Christian those connections as described in the Bible, all in hopes of reigniting the Christmas spirit within his in-law.
- OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
- One of my favorite Christmas stories -- be it in written, televised or filmed form -- is Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." It's the classic tale of seeing the error of one's ways as filtered through the Christmas spirit. "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas" isn't "a Christmas Carol." It's not even close, despite also featuring a character who somewhat similarly has his eyes opened regarding a mistaken mindset as related to Christmas.
In fact, it's barely a movie, and that has nothing to do with its intent of using its tale to open the eyes of others who might similarly share the mindset of that to-be-converted character. My view is based on the pic's odd structure, barely there story, and an 80-minute runtime that's padded with a long and not particularly well-done dance number -- to a hip-hop rendition of "Angels We Have Heard on High" no less -- as well as the credits, the obligatory but not remotely funny outtakes, and then a closing rap and beat-box combo.
Without that, the movie's storyline clocks in at about 63 minutes, and that includes Cameron -- who appears as himself (and apparently needs some lessons about how to fake drinking hot chocolate on camera) -- starting the film off with much verbiage about his love of all things Christmas related. He also touches on the so-called war on Christmas by pointing out those who want related celebrations toned down, and others who view common Christmas elements as sacrilegious, if you will, and having little to do with Christ's birth.
With Cameron providing occasional voice-over narration, the film focuses mostly on the latter group and follows Scrooge, er, Christian -- Cameron's character's brother-in-law played by the film's director, Darren Doane -- who has developed a bah-humbug view of Christmas trappings. So, after Cameron joins Christian in his SUV retreat outside of his wife's large Christmas party, the Christian man expresses his concerns about and disdain toward various traditional Christmas elements (the tree, Santa, etc.) and Cameron describes how those are related to actual biblical passages, accompanied by brief dramatic recreations.
After a few bouts of that, Christian has seen the light and thus returns to his party as the very life of that, thus prompting the big concluding dance number. And that's it. There's a brief interlude of a minor character who does believe in the war on Christmas, but since he's portrayed as a conspiracy theorist, Cameron and company seem to be attempting to distance themselves from that crowd and he barely gets more than a few moments of screen time.
While I wasn't expecting much from this offering -- penned by Doane and Cheston Hervey -- I certainly thought there'd be more to it than there is (either as a Christmas comedy, dramedy, or "documentary" about the efforts to destroy the holiday). As it stands, it barely qualifies as a feature-length movie. If you're looking for a tale about Christmas redemption, you can't go wrong with any number of the "Christmas Carol" options. "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas" is more like "Explaining Christmas" and not in a particularly entertaining or well-made way. It rates as a 3 out of 10.
Reviewed November 11, 2014 / Posted November 14, 2014
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