Hey, Judge David Johnson is also known as the Painter of Light! Small world!
Our review of Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage (Blu-Ray), published October 27th, 2010, is also available.
Love is the brightest light of all.
If you've been just craving a semi-autobiographical holiday movie based on the life of retail artist extraordinaire Thomas Kinkade, then joyous news for you my friend—your ship had arrived!
Facts of the Case
Thomas Kinkade (Jared Padalecki, Supernatural) and his younger brother are on Christmas break from college and head to their backwaters hometown in time for the Holiday festivities. Unfortunately, they find out that their mom (Marcia Gay Harden) is up to her eyeballs in debt and their house is falling apart around them.
Determined to help, they find jobs. Thomas, a budding artist at a creative crossroads, scores a sweet gig painting the town's Christmas mural. And that, my friends, is when the magic happens.
"I will not pander. I will not crap out on the market." That's what well-known artist Glen, played by Peter O'Toole, says to his painter-in-training Thomas Kinkade, played by Jared Padalecki. If you're someone who is not swayed by Thomas Kinkade's brand of highly-commercialized painting, you might find a blistering sense of irony in that line, which appears in a movie about Thomas Kinkade. Then again if you give a wide berth to the glinty creations of the self-proclaimed "Painter of Light" creations, I very much doubt you'll tune into this release anyway.
But for you fans out there—and, well, connoisseurs of schmaltzy holiday melodramas—you'll likely enjoy a pleasant viewing experience with Christmas Cottage. This is an easygoing family feature, PG through and through, about as edgy as a snowball, but still entertaining in a low-impact Hallmark kind of way.
Jared Padalecki is suitably laid-back and neutral as Thomas Kinkade, a young, idealistic sort who's unsure of where his artistic skills are heading and is straddling two worlds—the small-town atmosphere of his home and the hippie-drenched metropolis of Berkeley. He's a good cat, though, determined, along with his brother, to raise enough money to bail his mom out of some serious financial ruin. It's a choirboy role, but Padalecki pulls it off fine, importing some of that idealistic, puppy-dog sensibility from his role on Supernatural. Marcia Gay Hardem is fine, as the loving, independent mom and O'Toole, in limited screen time, speaks in cryptic Wizened Old Guy Speech. And a nod to Chris Elliot as the foppish porn-star-looking mayor.
The story is typical Christmas fare: some folks are going through tough times, and no one really feels like putting on their happy face and rocking the mirth and merriment and maybe, just maybe, Thomas and the rest of the Kinkade family might be able to propel the grumpy townsfolk to Yuletime cheer whether they @#$%&$*$#@$ like it or not. In fact the whole final twenty minutes is nothing but a blitzkrieg of the warm fuzzies, with the completion of the mural, the wide-eyed wonder of the town plebes as they absorb their facades, the teary Christmas Eve conversation between Thomas and Glen, the home improvement miracle showered on Thom's mom. "The year we found Christmas all over again," is how Thomas describes it.
The film looks fine in its 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, packed full of holiday color. A 5.1 surround mix pushes the syrupy score nicely. Extras: commentary from Thomas Kinkade and director Michael Campus, where Kinkade fleshes out the biographical nature of the film; a handful of deleted scenes with optional commentary; "Building the Christmas Cottage" making-of documentary; an interview with Kinkade; and interviews with cast, sharing Christmas memories.
It's not the most griping yarn, but Christmas Cottage is what it is: a family-friendly, sometimes saccharine, wholesome little holiday tale.
Not Guilty. Ho-ho-ho.
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