A Christmas Wish [2011] (Movie Review)

A Christmas Wish

Plot Summary

Martha Evans has been abandoned by her husband, so her only option is to pack up the kids and start a new life somewhere else. However, money is tight, so she’s forced to look for work along the way. She settles in a small town working at a struggling diner, but times are hard for everyone. Martha’s oldest daughter is intent on her mother finding the true meaning of Christmas, but will it be too late before Martha sees the light?

Production Quality (2.5 points)

It’s clear from start to finish that A Christmas Wish has a well-funded production. Video quality, camera work, and audio are all on par with industry standards. Locations and props are good while sets only have a few minor concerns in them, such as being a bit too cluttered and cramped. Further, editing is fine save for a few small issues. Overall, however, this is a top-notch production worthy of a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

For a Christmas film, this plot actually contains accessible characters and struggles that can be easily related to. The people feel authentic and have believable motivations through good dialogue. Nonetheless, conversations could be a bit better and less expository, which would allow for deeper personalities in the characters. Similarly, the backstories need more comprehensive explanations, and there’s so much content that some of it takes place offscreen. Scenes and sequences aren’t as efficient as they could be, which is an issue when there’s so many characters and subplots to deal with. Side tangents distract from the main themes, making this feel more like a series than a movie. Wastes of time like these make it hard to understand why some of the characters quickly develop such close and personal relationships with one another, and some things randomly change without good reasoning. Despite some cheesy Christmas elements, the story contains a very accessible message about praying and not giving up no matter what. There’s still plenty of potential here even though the rushed conclusion fixes everything without logical buildup. Thus, at least one point is warranted here.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

In keeping with the well-funded nature of this screenplay, the acting is professional. Many of the cast members assume their characters very well, even if there are a few overdone performances. Despite a few awkward moments with lines and emotions, the acting is good enough to receive a high score.

Conclusion

As a whole, A Christmas Wish is a better version of a small-town plot due to the accessible quirkiness of the characters. It’s actually a shame that it’s not longer than it is. This begs the question why this wasn’t the pilot of a recurring TV series. The characters were enough to justify at least one season, and a Christmas special like this film could have garnered interest for it. However, instead of this idea, we’re just left with a good screenplay that’s awkwardly stuck between the terrible parts of Christian entertainment and the truly memorable creations.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

Christmas For a Dollar (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

In the middle of the Great Depression, the Kamp family is struggling to get by, but Mr. Kamp won’t let his older children get jobs.  Norman, the crippled brother, wants to see a horse owned by a local grumpy rich woman.  All the schoolchildren want to win a special box from the teacher for doing the most good deeds, even though they are all sure the local bullies are cheating in the contest.  Will they be able to have an enjoyable Christmas together?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

As is the case for most of John Lyde’s productions, Christmas for a Dollar is respectable and above average.  This includes good video quality, camera work, and audio quality.  The soundtrack is a bit generic, but it’s fine.  Sometimes the sets, props, and locations are limited, but they are mostly good.  Also, the editing lags at times, but on the whole, every part of this production shows good effort, which is all we can ask for, especially considering the resources available.  John Lyde is consistent in rolling out good productions.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, also like other films from John Lyde and his team, the plot is this movie is fairly limited in its scope and tends to lack overall purpose.  While the characters show some realism and honesty, it’s hard to know where the story is going since there are several different rabbit trails it follows without really discovering a driving or underlying theme.  The characters could have been something, but some of the awkward dialogue holds them back.  Like other movies from this creative team, Christmas for a Dollar contains a lot of nice ideas that don’t come to full fruition.  This story needed a bit more work before going to production.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Despite the unrealistic costuming, this cast was definitely trying.  They overcame a rough start of awkward and forced lines and emotions to improve throughout the latter half of the film.  They seem like they are receiving some good coaching most of the time and really seem like they care about their roles.  This is more than can be said of most casts.

Conclusion

John Lyde and his creative team certainly care about their movies: this much is evident.  However, too often, their ideas get lost in translation and do not fully come through.  Films like this one tend to come off as nice little kids’ movies with no mass appeal outside of a small audience.  It’s a shame, because it seems like they could go further a lot of the time with their ideas.  Maybe one day soon they will finally break through to the next level, because they certainly have the ability to do so.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points