The Gift of Christmas [2020] (Movie Review)

The Gift of Christmas (TV Movie 2020) - IMDb

Plot Summary

After George and Allen Barnett went across country to fulfill their father’s dying wishes, both brothers came back changed men. For the holidays, George asks him brother for a favor: bringing home the prodigal daughter of George’s friend. As such, Allen and the woman embark on their own cross-country journey of good deeds, learning a lot about each other along the way.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

As a whole, the production in this film is average. This is due to clear video quality yet inconsistent lighting: some shots are either poorly lit or overly lit. Camera work and audio quality are acceptable except for some background echoes, and a generic soundtrack sometimes covers up other sounds. There are also some obvious overdubs and continuity errors that seem avoidable. Further, the editing is passable, but some scenes linger too long. Thus, due to the mixed bag, a middle-of-the-road score is warranted.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Much like its predecessor, The Good Journey, The Gift of Christmas fails to adequately engage its audience. This is due to cardboard characters that are built with expository dialogue rather than the deep conversations that are needed to support a character-based plot. Vague and blank sequences don’t offer much interest, and many scenes simply waste time. Some concepts seem under-explained, and the overall messaging teaches that simply going to church fixes everything. Despite some slightly interesting ideas that are very slow to develop and somewhat aimless, the narrative wanders around until everything is magically fixed in the end. It’s hard to believe the resolutions, and it makes matters worse that the vague story doesn’t hold the attention. Hence, with no tangible potential, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

The acting of this is fairly vanilla. There aren’t any particularly bad performances to point to, but no standouts can be found either. At times, the emotions and lines are robotic and stilted. However, other times, the acting is acceptable. Thus, this run-of-the-mill section rounds out an overall underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

Did anyone really ask for a sequel to The Good Journey? Many audiences never even knew that the first movie existed, much less a Christmas installment. These two screenplays are the perfect example of making entertainment just for the sake of it. Some slightly interesting ideas were included, but nothing was enough to truly engage the viewer. Half-hearted attempts are still hurting the field’s reputation, which means we still need quality over quantity.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

Matchmaker Mary (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Join Mary and her happen-chance band of friends in a heartwarming (?) journey of taking care of puppies and forcing people to hang out with each other.  Watch as she inserts herself into the private lives of people in order to coerce them into liking each other.  With her parents unstable and fighting at home, Mary ventures out to spread her cheer elsewhere, hoping to project her insecurities on helpless loners who never asked for her help.  She collaborates with her unusual aunt, who has taught her how to meddle in other people’s business, but little do all of them know that by the time this movie is over—if you make it that far—everyone will have a match of their own!

 

Production Quality (-1 points)

If you can’t tell by now, we didn’t particularly like this so-called Christian movie.  It could have joined a host of other movies like it on the Hallmark or Ion channels, but the production is so bad that there’s no way it would have been picked up or aired.  Hallmark and Ion still have production standards, believe it or not.  Matchmaker Mary was likely filmed with a camcorder at the local pet store and the surrounding areas.  The video is grainy, the sound terrible, and the camera work shaky.  The musical score is childish.  There’s really no care taken to even make this film watchable on a surface level.  This begs the question—why was it even made?

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1 points)

It’s perfectly understandable and commendable to portray a movie about a grade school girl who is having to deal with her parents’ strained relationship—this happens far too often and needs to be exposed.  However, where are the mentions of Mary going to God with her problems?  Rather than bury herself in puppies and busybodying around, a Christian message needed to be introduced here, if this movie is meant to be Christian.  At this rate, we’re not sure.  We’re also not sure why PureFlix even distributed it, but at this point, we’re not really surprised at anything they do anymore.  There are too many head-scratching moments in Matchmaker Mary to count.  Characters say odd things in out of place ways, situations are trumped up, and the entire premise of the plot is completely absurd.  If this film is trying to be ridiculous, it succeeded.

Acting Quality (-1 points)

As previously alluded to, the actors and actresses behave in generally strange ways that cannot really be explained or described.  It’s almost like they were instructed to act off the wall.  If they were not, then we really don’t know what to think.  But that pretty much describes our entire experience watching this movie.

Conclusion

This is the state of American society—movies like Matchmaker Mary are funded and distributed while it is likely that many other well-meaning and under-funded geniuses struggle to survive in the movie world because they simply don’t know the right people.  In reality, people don’t really repair and build real relationships on the basis of puppies.  We don’t need any more movies that contribute to unrealistic fantasies that already permeate our culture.  Films like this are best forgotten and buried under the memories of better movies watched and better movies still to come.

 

Final Rating: -3 out of 10 points