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Case Number 03457

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Christmas Comes To Willow Creek

Artisan // 1987 // 93 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Erin Boland (Retired) // October 30th, 2003

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All Rise...

The Charge

The Dukes of Hazard do Christmas.

Opening Statement

This is your stereotypical made-for-TV-warm-and-fuzzy Christmas film and it happens to star the Dukes of Hazard: John Schneider and Tom Wopat. In a nutshell: it's a brother hates brother, son hates father, and wife leaves husband film with a happy ending. DUH! We knew that as soon as we looked at the DVD jacket. No film called Christmas Comes to Willow Creek could have anything less then a predictably happy ending.

Facts of the Case

The town of Willow Creek, Alaska is in trouble: the canning factory has been shut down and several people are too poor for a good Christmas, a holiday that has the potential to decide the future of the town. Al (Hoyt Axton), the partner of Ray (John Schneider) and Pete's (Tom Wopat) late father and owner of a California trucking company, asks his two feuding employees to drive a truck full of supplies and gifts to Willow Creek, Alaska. Ray and Pete agree to take the truck while Michael (Zachary Ansley), Pete's rebellious son, is forced to come along for the ride. The highlights include a side trip to Reno, where Ray and Michael come to an understanding, and a jaunt to Vancouver to pick up Jessie (Kim Delaney), Ray's disaffected wife and Pete's ex-girlfriend. The trip ends short when the delivery party gets caught in a snow bank with only the hope of a miracle to save them.

The Evidence

The film's storyline was predictable—stupidly at times. The main characters were little more than stock from the Great Character Library in the Sky: the angsty teenager with a stiff father, a cowboy and his loving wife (even if she has temporarily left him). The apologies and absolutions at the end of the movie were rather trite and underdone. The events did not seem anywhere near powerful enough to evoke such a complete character change from beginning to end. Yeah, it's cheesy, and once in a while a cheesy Christmas movie is nice. But I don't like extra-cheese on my pie.

The acting in this movie was nothing special. The main characters preformed decently. The supporting cast was atrocious and really brought the overall quality of the movie down with it. The characters either over acted or didn't act. Several of the more key supporting roles had the potential to be memorable Christmas traditions but, between the overacting and the insert-your-best-Charlie Brown'- teacher-impression-here acting I can't forget some of them soon enough.

The video quality of the film was okay, at its best moments, with routine shifting from fairly clear to completely grainy. The skin tones in several scenes either contained orange undertones, or were extremely washed out. Overall, the film footage was rather uninteresting. There was very little difference in range, and while a Christmas-time family film doesn't necessarily need some fancy-schmancy camera work to be appealing, a little more creativity would have gone a long way.

The sound quality of the film was surprisingly good. The soundtrack was as clear as could be expected from any '80s film, and although there was the occasional bit of white noise, I had no problem understanding any of the dialogue.

This DVD contained no extras whatsoever—unless you count the scene selection index.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

If you are a serious Dukes of Hazard fan, this movie might be a good pick. I, however, have next to no clue who the Dukes of Hazard even were. (Some big show in the '70s that aired on CBS after the Hulk, or so I am told, so don't take my word for it.)

Closing Statement

If you like '80s-warmand-fuzzy made-for-TV Christmas moments, this movie may not be all that bad.

The Verdict

Christmas Comes to Willow Creek is guilty as charged. The supporting cast is sentenced to watch reruns of Charlie Brown classroom scenes until they learn how not to do it. The writer's membership to the Great Character Library in the Sky will be revoked—permanently. The main cast, generously considered victims of this menace, is free to go, so long as they promise to undergo a sobriety test before reading any more film scripts.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 50
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 65
Story: 70
Judgment: 54

Perp Profile

Studio: Artisan
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Christmas
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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