12 Days of Terrible Christmas – Day 1
Welcome friends and Merry Christmas! It’s Slick Dungeon here and I am on a quest to watch twelve of the worst ever Christmas movies made and review them for you so you never have to see them.
You have watched Home Alone obsessively for thirty years or more. You crack up at Will Ferrell’s antics in Elf. You swoon over all the love actually going around in Love Actually. Yet, isn’t there something more? Something new? Something to get that Christmas spice a little more stirred up in your eggnog? Nope. Trust me, just watch Die Hard again.
For the next twelve days I am going to be reviewing one film per day. Since it is Christmas I wanted to start with one that has the word Christmas in the title. This one does. Saving Christmas is Kirk Cameron’s love letter to Christmas.
Before I get too far in the review for this one, I just want to make a few things clear. If you love to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Festivus, or the fact that Baby Yoda exists in the world, I think you should be absolutely free to do so. Enjoy it all you want. I am not here to denigrate anyone’s religion in any way. I think as long as we are kind to each other that is all that matters.
But no matter your system of faith, or lack thereof, I think we can all agree, bad film making is bad. Saving Christmas is, and I cannot state this enough, a masterclass in bad film making.
How do I know this? Let me count the ways
- This starts with a voice over of Kirk Cameron before we go to a shot of… Kirk Cameron… but by a tree.
- Ol’ Kirk mugs it up for the camera by telling us how it matters how we come into this story and sips some hot chocolate. Kirk, reminder, you’re the film maker, you are deciding how we come into the story. I know, I know, he meant what attitude you have about the bible but that is just not made clear with that wonky voice over at all.
- Kirk tells us that Santa might be “on the team”. Here’s the team Santa is involved with, His team of reindeer. It’s really okay for people to believe or not believe in Santa as they choose. You don’t have to be Christian to believe in Santa and it’s okay to believe in Santa if you are a Christian. Let’s just not get up in each others faces about it.
- Kirk wants to make it clear that it is okay to love Christmas. You know, with the tree and the presents and the hot chocolate and the increased charity donations and whatnot. He tells us that as if someone is trying to stop people from having Christmas. While that might be true in some limited parts of the world it is, and I can’t really make this point enough, NOT true in the good ol’ US of A. No one is trying to take away your Christmas. Some people might want you to acknowledge that they don’t celebrate Christmas but I have never, ever, ever seen anyone be like, “How dare he wish me Merry Christmas,” It does not happen. Anywhoo…
- When we get done with the way too long narration about how, you better love all this stuff, we finally get to the movie itself. Okay, Kirk, you got me excited enough to be on board to see what you have to say, despite it being, well you just talking by a huge tree and sipping chocolate. This has to be about something right?
- Yeah, so it’s about a Christmas party. First Kirk goes in to say hello to his sister and then asks where his brother in law is. He is told that this year, Christian is just not that into Christmas. So now we know, Kirk is gonna save it. Totally save it I am sure. But first he offers to do bodily harm to his brother in law if he is, “acting out of line.” This is supposed to be a good-natured joke and all and I am sure Kirk didn’t mean anything by it but casual violence rises during the holiday season and can we please just not joke all the time about this stuff? There are real people who do go out and just beat on people and I don’t think that is exceptionally Christian.
- The bulk of this movie is a conversation that takes place… in a car in a driveway. Yep, that’s the big exciting locale for this.
- In the car Kirk convinces Christian that all this stuff that he sees around him, the trees, the gifts, Santa Claus, and what have you are all truly symbols for things that happen in the bible. I don’t know if he does or doesn’t really make that argument well but he certainly convinces his brother in law. After like ninety minutes of picking apart how, you know, having a tree isn’t idolatry or something. He also makes sure that we know that the historical Saint Nicholas beat someone up real good. So now Santa is cool even for adults okay? Sensing a little trend with Kirk enjoying some violence here…
- There is, well not a side plot because there would have to be a plot for there to be a side plot, but a part of the movie where these guys talk for like five minutes with their cocoa in front of their faces so no one can read their lips. It is one of the most dull sequences in a film I have ever seen.
- Did I mention most of this movie takes place in a car? It has little flash backs to biblical stories to give us a break from that but seriously, mostly car,
- Kirk wants us to think of Santa in Lord of the Rings terms. I think he should have gone for Narnia instead, it’s a much better fit.
- So the whole premise of this film is that this guy is not enjoying his own Christmas party because basically it is too materialistic and not biblical enough. He hides out in a car but then Kirk comes to get him out of the car. Now, I have never hid out at a party because I thought something was too materialistic but as an introvert, if I need to be hiding out in a car during a big loud party, seriously leave me there please. It’s too much with your actor self coming to talk to me when I purposely went somewhere no one will talk to me. Extroverts will never understand this.
- The climax of the movie is Christian going back into the party with new eyes. He sees that it isn’t just the nativity snow glob that represents baby Jesus. There’s also trees, you know made by God, there are nutcrackers to represent Herod’s soldiers and uh… somehow the presents under the tree are supposed to represent the city skyline that Jesus might have seen. If you weren’t sure if Kirk was okay with a lot of material goods around him, there is the proof. But when Christian comes in he like slides on the floor to the nativity ornament, apologizes to his wife for being a jerk and generally acts like a crazy man but with none of the fun of that. He’s not Chevy Chase trying to get Cousin Eddie to chill or anything. It’s just super weird. Also whatever house they shot this in is super huge and it’s very clear these people think having a lot of money is what God wants for them.
- I should mention the acting is… Well can I call it acting? I mean it’s just people having a conversation. I get the feeling they had this conversation and went, we should make a movie about this conversation! How should we film it? Let’s film the conversation mostly and throw in a couple of images… but while we have the conversation just in case anyone forgets we are having a conversation.
- The last, and most awkward part of this movie, I kid you not, has an evangelical rap group perform while the mostly (by which I mean 95%) white people try to break dance. Like eighties break dancing with pop and lock and stuff. It’s the kind where the people dancing have so little rhythm they literally have to slow mo it so it looks at all decent. As a white guy I can say, I think it is the whitest thing I have ever seen in all my life, this side of a mayo sandwich on wonder bread.
If you are wondering if I recommend this movie, you may have guessed I don’t. But seriously it is not because it comes at Christmas from a religious perspective. I don’t take issue with that. However, I can recommend a far, far better film as an antidote to this one. It gets at the true meaning of Christmas, it even takes someone who is not that enthusiastic about Christmas and changes his mind. It’s in all ways a nearly perfect Christmas movie and it achieves the same goal as Saving Christmas in about 30 minutes. Yes, I am talking about A Charlie Brown Christmas. It acknowledges the secular, it injects humor, and it asks people to remember why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. All of this without weird voice overs, Santa beating people up, and most especially without two dudes just sitting in a driveway for almost an hour.
I’ll be back with another Christmas doozy tomorrow. You get twelve days of this so buckle up! Merry whatever you celebrate, up to and including Festivus or even, baby Yoda.