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.


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


The Good Journey (Movie Review)

The Good Journey (2018) - IMDb

Plot Summary

George and Allen Barnett are extremely different as brothers, but when their father dies, part of getting their inheritances is working together. Though they don’t get along, the brothers are forced to retrace the steps of their parents’ honeymoon trip, which was aided by many different Good Samaritans. George and Allen are tasked with repaying these kind people for their good deeds, and along the way, they discover more about themselves.

Production Quality (1 point)

The production isn’t quite up to the mark despite its clear video quality. Camera work is inconsistent although it gets better as it goes. Audio quality is fine except for loud background noises and a generic soundtrack that hardly stops playing. Sets, props, and locations are okay, but there are cheesy graphics throughout. Elsewhere, the editing is average, and the amount of negatives overall isn’t enough to warrant a score any higher than this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Between the choppy story presentation and the lagging nature of many scenes in this screenplay, The Good Journey is a boring experience. Tons of time is wasted with musical montages that displace substantial conversations, making the film feel like a collection of randomly disconnected sequences. The character have absolutely no substance or depth, seeming strangely unconcerned about family deaths without good reason. They do things simply because the writers want them to. As a whole, the dialogue is bland and generic. Thus, with no real potential in this section, no points can be given.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Robotic acting dominates the first half of this movie, making for an annoying experience. Emotions are stoic and nonexistent as line delivery is uneven. Nonetheless, slight improvement in the latter parts keep this section from being nothing but still isn’t enough to buoy an overall underwhelming effort.


The Good Journey was based on a nice idea, one that seemed slightly different from other run-of-the-mill Christian entertainment. However, poor funding and misfired presentation sunk whatever creativity was possible here. As such, this film joins the long line of offerings in the Christian market that could have been something yet fell short of the mark for a number of reasons.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Guided by the Word (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Right before Steven’s wife dies, her dying wish is for him to reconcile with their estranged daughter by taking her the Bible she used to use in Sunday school.  Though reluctant at first, after his wife dies, Steven honors her wishes and makes a trek across the country to find his long-lost daughter in order to give her the Bible.  Along the way, he reconnects with the faith he forgot he still had.


Production Quality (1 point)

Though this is a 2017 production, it is still relatively underwhelming.  Video quality and camera work are really the only good elements that can be highlighted here.  Audio quality is too inconsistent, including loud outside sounds and an overbearing soundtrack.  Sets, locations, and props are too limited and are obviously cheap.  There is also some randomly poor lighting.  Editing is basically non-existent as one long diatribe is presented here.  In the end, it’s hard to see a justification for this film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Much like Almost Home, Guided by the Word us another half-baked idea that is better suited as a short film rather than a feature-length film.  The story wastes tons of time in an attempt to be longer and is full of empty dialogue and one-dimensional characters.  There’s probably a good message in here somewhere, but it feels too plastic and childish.  It also suggests a lot of quick fixes to problems.  It’s very hard to connect to these characters and their circumstances when they don’t even seem like they are real.  Unfortunately, it’s very hard to justify the existence of films like this.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Much like Almost Home, this cast is overly practiced and stilted in their line delivery.  They are also not very good at showing any emotions as they come off as monotone and lifeless.  It is unclear that John Lina should be in a lead role.  In the end, this film is just another disappointment that will be forgotten.


It’s sad that movies that have well-intentioned motives behind them like this will be washed away in the ever-increasing tide of Christian films being made.  In order to stand out, you absolutely must have professional production quality.  You need at least a marginally realistic plot that contains accessible characters.  Finally, you need a cast that can carry the film by becoming the characters.  Movies like this will only find themselves as thrift store fodder.


Final Rating: 1 out of 10 points


Almost Home [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Rachel and her dementia-afflicted grandfather decide to go for a walk to the store, they suddenly become lost in their small town find themselves wandering aimlessly along country roads.  As Rachel’s mother prays and tries to organize a search party for them, she can only think of all the horrible things that might happen to her daughter and her father.  However, Rachel and her grandfather end up having a fun time wandering around and meeting eccentric people.


Production Quality (.5 point)

The only good aspect of this production is the video quality, unfortunately.  Camera work is too shaky and audio quality is unnecessarily echoed.  The soundtrack is also silly.  Sets, locations, and props are too limited and are obviously amateurish.  There is not really any editing to speak of as pretty much all content possible is included.  There are also some references to unnecessary off-screen content.  Basically, this production unjustified due to its low quality and for reasons we will explore next.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The plot of Almost Home is so trite and silly that the entire idea is utterly pointless.  Filled with silly juvenile conversations, there is literally nothing to this film except for a girl and her grandfather aimlessly wandering around and meeting goofy people while their family worries about them.  This is the only conflict presented and a majority of the ‘plot’ is based on coincidences.  While there may be a place of this sort of film, its idea needs to be greatly expanded and the comedy of it needs to be further embraced.  As it is, this story is so limited that it can only be justified as a short film as it is.  There is no way this story is going to interest people.

Acting Quality (0 points)

With such a small cast, all errors stand out obviously.  The cast members are overly practiced and stilted in their line delivery.  Sometimes the acting is a bit off the wall.  Emotions seem very plastic.  Overall, this caps off a disappointing film.


Exactly how was this idea pitched?  Almost Home is at best a piece of a film or a short film, not a feature-length idea.  There is so little potential and content here that it’s actually quite sad.  We are unsure as to how films like this are made, even if the creators do mean well.  The time and money spent on this film would have been far better used elsewhere.  As it is, films like this one will have no impact on the field and will be easily and unfortunately forgotten.


Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points


Matchmaker Mary (Movie Review)


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.


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