Judge David Johnson chopped down his Christmas tree with the jawbone of a chipmunk.
It's time to believe.
The George family was living the life. David (Kevin Sizemore), the patriarch, held a lucrative job as a developer, which allowed his brood to attend the nicest private schools, sport the dopest smartphones, and his wife to hang with the most upper of upper crust. But when David suddenly finds himself without a job, the Georges' perfect life disintegrates. After a year of fooling themselves, they are forced to relinquish their house and start living in motel rooms. Then, it gets worse.
But before they end up under an overpass somewhere, a man who owns a huge farm and gives away free Christmas tress takes David's family into his home, in exchange for routine tree maintenance. It's a sweet gig, but the miracle stuff is yet to come.
For a simple low-budget family film, A Christmas Tree Miracle comes surprisingly and tantalizingly close to being something noteworthy. While the production is simple and the acting limited, I really felt they were onto something. Specifically, there's a scene where the young George girl is talking to a peer who's living in a shelter. As she breaks down and weeps, the girl attempts to comfort her with levity. It's an effective piece of filmmaking and one of the few sequences I've seen dealing with teen homelessness. My attention was grabbed and I felt this had the potential to do something interesting with a sneaky critical issue, in a believable and humanizing way.
Unfortunately, the film peeled off, shifting its narrative towards the Georges taking up with an old man on a tree farm. For the purposes of a so-so family Christmas movie, I suppose this turn of events make sense. The father, thanks to a cup of coffee he unthinkingly gave to an old dude in a donut shop over a year ago, totally lucks into the sweetest deal ever and scores his own tree farm (but almost botches it, were not for yet another random act of kindness by another weird old man). Until this point, there's the opportunity to take a solid look at what homelessness means and perhaps what actions and choices can be made to put oneself on a path to stabilization. Instead, we get a bail-out storyline that would never ever happen to a real family.
Granted, A Christmas Tree Miracle is a movie, but its early tone appeared to keep the narrative wedded closely to what real events would look like. The turn to fantasy struck me as a weird, missed opportunity.
Nothing much happening with the DVD: a mid-grade 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, 2.0 Dolby Stereo track, and no extras.
Oh well…at least we're left with an okay serving of Christmas schmaltz.
Could've been better.
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