The Christmas Project
So, it might be important to understand that this year, a lot of my selection came from randomly Googling "obscure Christmas movies" in order to find more Christmas titles that are floating around out there. That said, it didn't go much further than that, and I ended up checking out this made-for-TV family flick.
Loaded with a bunch of unknowns, it's essentially the story of four brothers who partake in their family project known as "Elving", where they deliver things like baked goods to the less fortunate by playing Ding-Dong-Ditch, and leaving the goods on the front porch. They watch from a distance as these people bring in their goodies, and say "thank you" to an unknown source. It's a nice, if not slightly creepy concept. But really, the story revolves around the eldest middle child of four boys, Matthew Buckley (Jacob Buster).
The time of year blends with things like a first crush who can't act her way out of a paper bag, Juniper (Grace Hallows, but to be fair, she seems to be pretty unknown), and a bully at school, Finn Hagbart (Gabe White). Things take an interesting turn as Matthew sees that there may be more than meets the eye to his bully, when he and his family become the subject of their next Elving, which also involves a 9-month pregnant and emotional mother (Alison Akin Clark), and supportive and frankly kinda awesome father (Brian Neal Clark).
So more than anything, it mostly ends up being a sort of after school special kinda movie, focused on Matthew and how he deals with his feelings surrounding what ends up being a pretty eventful Christmas for him. And when I say after school special, it's presented as pretty much exactly that. This is the kind of movie your school or church might show you in order to educate you about your newfound feelings, so one must understand that before going into it, because it's incredibly cheesetastic with the way it unfolds. But something also struck me as odd about it.
Something about this film struck me as being the kind of thing I would land on while channel surfing on a day home sick from school, back in my elementary days. It's poorly executed, but being that it's a TV movie made for Christian families, it's harmless, and in its own way, it's kinda strangely comforting. When it comes to the parents in this, and even the brothers' relationships with each other, you see that this is overall a well-functioning, happy family, and there's nothing bad going on with the family in the background. The closest it gets is having a pregnant mother, and being that she's already had four kids, she takes it like a trooper, and the husband/father never overshadows her as some sort of hero.
So really, it's hard to know what to think of this movie. It's not without its moments, it's heartwarming, and it's a nice flick for the whole family. That said, the acting is pretty brutal when it comes to a cast of unknowns, and a lot of the jokes fall flat. Again, it's not without a couple of giggles, but for the most part, as I mentioned before, it's pretty cheesetastic. It feels like it belongs in the 90s, but it takes place in '86, so I'm a little lost on that as well. All in all, it's not what I'd call a good movie, but for some weird reason, it makes me think of my childhood and there's a sort of messed up comfort to it despite how bad it is. Again, this is plain and simply an after school special, directed mainly as the younger end of childhood. I have to give it a bit of leverage in that case because it wasn't necessarily made for me, a 37-year-old dude. It teeters on a 3, but considering there are just better movies out there that cover similar subjects...
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