Saving Christmas – Movie Review

Saving ChristmasSaving Christmas – PG
Release Date: Fri 14 Nov 2014

Kirk Cameron took to Facebook recently to ask his fans to leave positive reviews on aggregate score sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB. This backfired spectacularly as people caught wind and made it their mission to do the exact opposite – tanking the movie even further. As I write this, the movie holds the dubious honor of being #1 on IMDB’s Bottom 100 and ranking worse than Birdemic (#2) and Manos: The Hands of Fate (#12.)

I don’t know if Saving Christmas would still be in theaters if it had less of an infamous reputation. It showed more than a half dozen times a day all last week just at the theater we saw it in. For the first few minutes, we had the theater to ourselves until a few more people straggled in. I honestly couldn’t tell if they had just slipped in after seeing something else or if they were scared of being recognized while the lights were still on.

I’m happy to report that Saving Christmas is firmly in the “so bad it’s good” camp. It’s message could be construed as offensive here and there, but it’s so relentlessly ridiculous that it still manages to entertain. The movie’s message borders on satire, as if it were an interpretation by South Park called “Kirk Cameron’s Christmas Intervention.” We start with Cameron sitting fireside talking directly to a cue card to the side of the camera. He goes on a friendly rant about the “kinds of people” out there with regard to Christmas. It’s confusing, and we can’t tell where it’s leading. Is it a framing device for the rest of the movie? Why does he keep talking about cocoa? (I’m convinced that he was not well served by the editing that tries to maximize his charm by leaving in anything remotely humorous.)

After a brief, confusing flashback to an old man talking to a girl and weird opening credit sequence, we then get into another framing device. Kirk Cameron is at his sister’s house where a huge Christmas party is taking place. He has a strange conversation with her that walks a line between being charming and condescending and finds that her husband has become disillusioned with Christmas and is hiding outside in his car. Cameron goes and spends the majority of the movie talking to him. The brother-in-law is played by director and co-writer Darren Doane. He is a Christian (named Christian!) who is in the cynical camp that believes all the material excess of the party has lost sight of the real meaning of Christmas.

Their conversation is structured in a consistent way. Christian asks what something has to do with Christmas – covering everything from decorating the tree to buying gifts people only use for a week or two to Santa, he of the anagram name of Satan. Cameron listens and nods, patronizing with charming patience before responding with an earnest story that involves History channel-style flashbacks. These responses use something that sounds like logic to explain that no, Christian, everything does have a place at Christmas. Christmas is to celebrate that God appeared in material form, so it’s only right that we give each other material gifts to remember him by. Christmas trees are about the garden of Eden and the “tree” Jesus was crucified on. St. Nicholas beat up someone he disagreed with because he was a “bad dude.” (Cameron makes sure to stipulate that he means the kind of “bad” that actually means “good.”) Christian says “I never thought of it like that,” and moves on to the next argument.

The movie concludes with a cringe-inducing hip hop dance number by a large group of mostly kids who aren’t particularly good at dancing.

Saving Christmas feels like it took the message from A Charlie Brown Christmas and took it in the opposite direction. Instead of Linus telling Charlie what Christmas is all about, he tells him to go inside and be the life of the party. Don’t worry about that nagging sensation that greed and gluttony seem opposed to Jesus. Everything is about Jesus if you just let Kirk Cameron explain it to you. I was entertained, but I’m sure it wasn’t for the reasons the producers intended.

Aaron, Cal and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion in the car:

SavingChristmas

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