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Case Number 22885: Small Claims Court

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Hoax for the Holidays

MTI // 2011 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 7th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson likes hoagies for the holidays.

The Charge

Faith, forgiveness, and customer service.

The Case

Martha MacIsaac plays Casey, a snooty hipster teenager who burns through her time on Earth furrowing her brow and working the drive thru at the local donut place. While Casey labors in her post-ironic world, her father Donald (Callum Keith Rennie, Battlestar Galactica) operates in a world of despair, unable to let go of a family member who lies in her hospital bed, near death and unresponsive.

And then something weird happens: Casey throws some coffee on the wall of her store, it drips into the shape of Jesus Christ, and suddenly desperate believers from all corners of the Earth journey to gape at what they are convinced is a Christmas miracle. Casey keeps the hoax going, because it means good business for the donut shop and her father's Christmas Tree lot. But how far is she willing to take this tomfoolery?

Strange movie, this. I'm not sure what genre it would fall under. I hesitate to give it the "family" label, and—despite what the tagline may imply—it's not a Christian film. There is a moderate amount of coarse language, which may not be on the level of The Wire, but is just salty enough to keep sensitive parents away.

Maybe it's a just a comedy/drama that happens to be about a family, but is designed to appeal more to adolescents? Perhaps. Casey being the primary character would support that hypothesis, though I'm not sure if I can see your standard-issue 16 year-old inviting her friends for a sleepover to eat pizza and watch Hoax for the Holidays. It's just not that funny. Or hip. And Casey is a thoroughly unlikable character.

The gimmick is especially weird. A coffee-shaped Jesus? Didn't that meme die out years ago? Then again…


…this movie was made in Canada.

The finale ties together things in a nice, warm-and-fuzzy way, once again shifting Hoax for the Holidays back into the "family-friendly" category. I'm not sold. This is a movie that isn't sure what it wants to be or to whom it's going to appeal.

Basic DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital, no extras.

The Verdict

You'll see more rewarding holiday fare on any number of Growing Pains Christmas specials.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: MTI
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English (CC)
• Spanish
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Christmas
• Comedy
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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