Beware: Spoilers may follow.
You know I’m not the biggest fan of Christian Christmas movies (or certain Christian movies for that matter *cough cough God’s Not Dead 2*) but I respect anyone’s religion one and all the same. And while this movie hasn’t changed my stance on that, I can safely say this is one of if not the worst Christmas movies I’ve seen.
The story involves local war hero and town mayor Bob Revere (Marshall Teague) whose son Thomas (Austin Marks) goes off to war while his wife is pregnant. However young Thomas is killed in combat leaving his wife a widow and his son to grow up without a father. 14 years later the family reunites for Thanksgiving for the first time since Thomas died. As Bob tries to reconnect with his now teenage grandson Christian, he learns of his town’s attempts to suppress his family’s various expressions of Christianity. Believing the very freedoms his son fought to protect are under attack Bob sets out to put the “Christ” back in Christmas by restoring good old Christmas traditions.
The first two problems I have with this movie is that one, with the family name being Revere, grandson’s name being Christian, and the way it portrays Fred Williamson’s Warren Hammerschmidt the movie has little in the way of subtlety. Two is that this is supposed to take place in 2012 and Bob’s son was deployed 14 years prior in 1998. As a former history major let me tell you we were not putting troops on the ground during this time. But that is only the tip of the iceberg with this movie.
No what truly gets under my skin in this movie is the weak piece of propaganda it tries to be. The whole concept of “The war on Christmas” is based off nonexistent pride and very rarely do our “heroes” ever attempt to make a well-rounded argument for themselves. The actions of those trying to repress Christmas are based on unclear fear alone. In fact, some of the ways Bob argues are downright hypocritical and make him super unlikable. He claims to be fighting for religious freedom in general while simultaneously chastising others for doing the same. It feels like the movie wants to send a message but has no concrete or nuanced exploration of the issues. In fact, it gets downright despicable and feels very much like a disservice when Bob claims his reason to fight back against the so called “War on Christmas” is in honor who have sacrificed their lives for the U.S. I mean the way it uses the Army, the bible, the American flag, the cross as symbols, and heck even the pilgrims (particularly with Bob’s argument of them being completely backwards given they were calvinists) are devoid of any attempt to elevate the themes. And the actions of the people trying to repress Christmas in this movie (and Bob and his family coming out on top in spite of it all) are grossly exaggerated sometimes to the point of hilarity. They have little if any grounding in reality. There’s a subplot where the teacher at Christian’s school attempts to remove all references to Jesus for the school play of Jesus’ birth and instead make into a science fiction story. And yet we find out later that apparently none of these kids ever read the bible even though the movie emphasizes that Christmas is a recognized holiday by the federal government and its citizens but apparently the same time no one celebrates Christmas or puts up decorations anymore and actually thought that the story of Jesus legitimately involves aliens. But let me just assure you…it gets worse. The kids hijack the play and tell the actual story of Jesus which is fine but what isn’t fine is Christian showing a video of his late father the moment he died all those years ago. And somehow showing this snuff film in the midst of this junior high play results in a standing ovation. All of this is nothing more than a Christian persecution fantasy.
All this aside though the acting in this movie does not help its way either. Marshall Teague was in no way convincing and I’ve already mentioned how unlikable his character is. Jennifer O’ Neal didn’t amount to much as Bob’s wife Dottie. And Fred Williamson’s character was largely one dimensional. The rest of the acting are nothing short of stiff. But in all honesty, I don’t think any actor could have saved this movie. And its production values are incredibly cheap both of which would have been forgivable if not for its terrible story.
At the end of the day though this movie’s story is truly what makes this movie awful. Its story and characters acts like it’s a huge savior representing the best of America but at the end of the day just makes a complete fool of itself. And to anyone who may like this movie let me just tell you…Happy Holidays. Because I know that will hurt far more than anything else I’ve said here.