Before I begin my review, I must mention that I do not hate Jesus, Christians, or Christian filmmakers. I grew up in an evangelical church, watching Veggie Tales and listening to Psalty cassette tapes. Today, I am a professing Christian, and going into this movie, I understood the culture that created A Christmas Snow. On some level, I even appreciate someone trying to make a family-friendly film. However, all of my understanding cannot excuse that this is a really bad movie.
In A Christmas Snow, Kathleen (Catherine Mary Stewart) is a restaurant owner who everyone says hates Christmas. I don’t really think that she hates Christmas. There is never any indication that she hates Christmas other than the fact that she keeps her restaurant open on Christmas Day, the newspaper’s food critic calls her a Grinch, and her father abandoned her family on Christmas Eve. She might not be a huge fan of Christmas, but she never prevents others from enjoying the holiday the way that the Grinch does. She doesn't strap antlers onto her dog and steal Christmas presents and the roast beast. I think it is admirable that she keeps her restaurant open on Christmas for her patrons who don’t have a family to celebrate Christmas with or who just want a good meal on Christmas without having to slave away in the kitchen.
All in all, Kathleen seems like a fairly well-adjusted, successful adult. She is in love with a widower Andrew (Anthony Tyler Quinn), and she tries again and again to get along with her potential step-daughter Lucy (Cameron Ten Napel) despite Lucy’s bratty behavior. Her rocky relationship with her mother seemed out-of-place with her otherwise level head. I didn’t believe that a mature woman like Kathleen would still blame her mother for her father’s abandonment.
When Lucy’s babysitter bails, Andrew leaves Lucy with Kathleen for a few days. Kathleen runs out of glitter for Lucy’s angel costume for the Christmas pageant, and when Kathleen runs to the store for more glitter, a strange old man Sam (Muse Watson) saves her from a gang of skateboarders who try to steal her purse. Knowing that he has nowhere to stay for the night, Kathleen invites Sam back to her home expecting that he will take off the next morning. The only trouble is that the title character, that darn Christmas snow, decides to show up that night and trap them inside the house without electricity. With nowhere to go, these characters will have to resolve their issues through making s’mores and playing board games together. Will Kathleen and Lucy finally bond? Who is the mysterious Sam? Will Kathleen finally embrace the Christmas spirit? Anyone who has ever seen any Christmas movie already knows the answers to these questions.
I find it funny that Christian movies want to be outside of the mainstream and yet many of them fall into the same conventions and use the same stock characters as their secular counterparts. Lucy is supposed to be the cutesy, impish child. Andrew is the patient father balancing his daughter’s needs with his girlfriend’s feelings. Sam is the kind and mysterious stranger. The movie’s biggest problem is that Kathleen does not fit into the embittered emotionally-stunted woman category. On the contrary, she is often punished by other characters for behaving like a mature grown-up. When she tries to call in to her workplace that she won’t be able to make it in, Lucy holds the only cell phone in the house hostage. Lucy treats Kathleen with absolutely no respect at all and smirks in an obnoxious way that makes me want to smack her upside the head. If I don’t like Lucy, then how can I expect Kathleen to like Lucy?
The only other part of the movie worth mentioning is the film’s twist ending which wasn’t really a big surprise. About a half hour into the movie, my husband guessed the twist, and we had a ten dollar bet going for the rest of the movie over whether he was right. Needless to say, I lost the bet. I won’t reveal the twist because for those who like these kinds of Christian movies, the twist is the only thing that sets this film somewhat apart. What I can say is that for people who care less about a religious message and care more about realistic storytelling, well drawn-out characters, and good filmmaking, A Christmas Snow has nothing to offer. Most non-Christians and Christians with any film taste will avoid A Christmas Snow or switch it off before it even gets to its big proselytizing Christmas Story moment.
DVD Bonus Features
This was a screener copy of A Christmas Snow, so there were no special features. The back case said that the final copy will include cast interviews, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and narration for the visually-impaired. While the narration for the visually-impaired is a thoughtful touch, I wish that it was narrating a better movie, and I bet the visually-impaired will feel the same.
"A Christmas Snow" is on sale August 10, 2010 and is not rated. Children & Family, Christian, Drama. Directed by Tracy Trost. Written by Tracy Trost, Candace Lee. Starring Anthony Tyler Quinn, Cameron Ten Napel, Catherine Mary Stewart, Muse Watson.