What I didn’t realize was that I was in store for a whole lot more…
The film’s trailers didn’t make things look particularly appealing. And the film came and went pretty quickly through the first-run theaters (I saw it at a local second-run theater, The LaGrange). And, if its overall IMDB rating of 5.8/10 is any indicator, it didn’t appear to inspire many glowing reviews.
I’m here to change that.
First, a little context is in order. Even though I’m now on vacation (always a good thing!), I’ve found myself in a decidedly non-Christmas-y mood – sometimes even a little short of temper and irritable lately. While this is never a recommended outlook, it’s even less so at the most joyous time of year.
So I saw this movie…
As we the audience were getting introduced to the Cooper family, I found that it appeared everyone in the film was in a decidedly non-Christmas-y mood as well as being a little short of temper and irritable. This, for better or worse, provided a means of instantly connecting with all of them. Perhaps if I were in a different frame of mind I might have dismissed them as being “unlikable”; but not now. For the time being, these folks were my peeps.
- Charlotte just wants to make a “perfect” family gathering at Christmas – no matter what the cost.
- Sam just wants to go with Charlotte on a long-planned (and delayed) trip so the couple can re-connect.
- Hank just wants to have a job again. Any job. Please…
- Charlie just want the girl with whom he’s smitten.
- Bo just wants to find the perfect Christmas present (but it can’t cost too much).
- Madison just wants to be, seemingly, a potty-mouth in front of adults at every conceivable opportunity.
- Aunt Fishy just wants… perhaps, to live happily in her own version of the world.
- Bucky just wants family – even when one of them isn’t related to him.
- Emma just wants to get out from under the self-imposed shadow of her sister, Charlotte.
- Eleanor just wants, ultimately, to feel loved for who she is rather than who people think she should be.
Ok, you’ve met them.
What we witness of the Coopers in this unexpected gem of a movie is a slice of life around Christmas Eve. Unlike what the trailers would have you believe, there’s not a lot of comedy here. And, really, there shouldn’t be (leave that to Griswolds in their own classic film). Here, things are much more matter-of-fact – and that’s a good thing. For some reason, it called to mind an amazing Christmas movie (which wasn’t a Christmas movie) that I saw last year, The Miracle of the Bells. Nice touch.
And what we experience (or at least, what I experienced) during this slice of life isn’t “heart” or “celebration” or even “inspiration”. Rather, I – perhaps in part due to the mood I was in – experienced … compassion.
What a wonderful gift at Christmastime!
I suspect this film won’t be for everyone. Its reviews bear this out. That, however, doesn’t make it unworthy – just not particularly mainstream. Give it a try anyway; you might just be touched by it.
As Christmas approaches – and it seems to come quicker every year – I find it helpful to get past the trimmings and trappings (although they’re quit nice) and be open, even reaching, for something … Higher. This, at least in my humble opinion, can apply regardless of one’s religious beliefs (or even lack thereof). Therefore, I wish for each of you to be touched sometime during this wonderful season, by something – be it the coming of Christ in your heart, a renewed spirituality, the warm embrace of family, an unexpected kindness either bestowed or received, a precious moment of nostalgia (perhaps listening to The Three Little Dwarves) – whatever it is, may it warm your heart. And with that in mind, may I wish everyone a: