Jankowski's Film Watch 2017: Saving your Christmas from the Satanic teachings of Kirk Cameron
Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas, also known as just Saving Christmas, is directed and written by Darren Doane and stars Kirk Cameron with Doane himself also starring.
I am a firm believer that every single Christmas movie ever made, good and bad, has the best of intentions at heart. Yes, I am including all of those schmaltzy Hallmark Channel Christmas movies that are all the exact same movie. If you ask someone what the meaning of Christmas is, the response you will get depends heavily on who you're talking to. A faithful Christian who knows the Bible and Church history inside out will offer a completely different answer than a raging atheist. But whether you're a devout Christian, a passionate atheist, or someone whose stuck in some agnostic space in the middle, I think we can all agree on the fact that Christmas is a season that strives to bring joy and love and all of that heartfelt stuff to friends and families everywhere, evident in every Christmas movie ever. There is one movie, however, that has the audacity to declare itself a Christmas movie despite the fact that everything it tells you about Christmas is nonsensical and flat out wrong, all the while accomplishing the seemingly impossible goal of upsetting both devout Christians and hardcore atheists alike. That movie I am of course referring to is none other than Kirk Cameron's callous Christmas clunker, Saving Christmas.
How bad is Saving Christmas? The critical consensus has it listed as one of the worst films ever made, so I don't know what more you would possibly need to get a good picture of just how bad it is. It's not at all so-bad-it's good, I assure you. It's a deranged and twisted little thing that will have you never wanting to see Kirk Cameron in anything resembling a movie ever again. Cameron may not have directed the film nor written the screenplay, but he still has his hands and face all over the film, as if he intended it be his magnum opus because he's just that passionate about Christmas and no other film that he would get involved in during his lifetime would come close to his ultimate take on the Christmas season. Who cares about winning Oscars and potentially getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame when you can share with audiences your historically and factually deprived beliefs on things like Christmas trees, presents, and hot chocolate? Just a quick side note, Cameron loves talking about hot chocolate, mentioning it whenever he gets the chance. Now, people have the right to believe whatever they want. That's just conventional wisdom. Kirk Cameron is allowed to believe whatever he wants, and if he has some unique takes on the many aspects of Christmas, more power to him. But where everything falls apart for Cameron is how he passes off his beliefs as if they are the be-all end-all, having it firm in his head that all of his answers and beliefs are right, and everything you believe is wrong. His pompous attitude shines through like overly luminous Christmas lights and screams at you, "You're all wrong. I have all the answers. What I believe about Christmas is how it actually is." Since Cameron is an active Evangelical Christian, his thoughts and explanations are geared towards deterring atheists from diminishing the religious connections of Christmas. But like I said earlier, this is a film that will upset both atheists and Christians, because Cameron's presentation is so backwards and convoluted that this film will offend Christians about as much as it will offend atheists.
In terms of plot, there's really not much of one. More so, Saving Christmas is an hour-long sermon by Cameron explaining to us the biblical roots of the main things associated with Christmas: trees, Santa Claus, the manger with baby Jesus. The only part of the film that resembles anything close to a plot is this: Kirk Cameron plays a fictional version of himself, and he's attending a Christmas party at his sister's (Bridgette Ridenour) house. Kirk notices that his sister's husband, Christian (the director Darren Doane), is sitting by himself in a corner, not invested at all in the Christmas celebration. Kirk later finds Christian sitting in his car outside, where Christian expresses his frustration over how he thinks the Christmas holiday has become too commercialized and too tied to consumerism. Kirk tells Christian he's wrong and proceeds to explain why he's wrong.
The film opens with a framing sequence with Kirk sitting in a chair beside a fireplace, addressing the audience about how much he loves the Christmas season. Kirk speaks to us while drinking hot chocolate from a mug, but you don't need close inspection to see that Kirk is drinking out of an obviously empty mug. In my notes for this scene, I have written down, "We're off to a great start." Why do I mention this blunder? Because it perfectly sets the tone for what is yet to come.
- The only good coming from Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas is its merciful 79 minute run time, with the final ten minutes being dedicated to bloopers/outtakes and the end credits, so it's actually more like 69 minutes. Though if you can somehow make it through the first 20 minutes without being offended in some way, you deserve a medal. Is that all for high points? Yes, that is all.
- Kirk Cameron should be banished from any and all Christmas activities anywhere for the rest of his life. He does not deserve one iota of credit or praise for thinking outside the box and being imaginative in his beliefs toward Christmas, because instead of simply suggesting to us one way of thinking about Christmas trees, Santa Claus, etc., he is dead set on convincing us why Christian (and apparently us) is wrong in thinking that Christmas is about materialism and that it no longer is appreciated for its religious roots. Cameron doesn't provide any specific historical evidence, factual information, or biblical quotes to back up his claims, therefore leaving us baffled at how Cameron could possibly come up with what he preaches to us. For example, Cameron goes on telling us about how Christmas trees are actually representative of Jesus dying on the cross, because Jesus is supposed to be the last Adam, and since Adam took the fruit off of the tree in the Garden of Eden, Jesus going up on the cross is meant to be Adam putting the fruit back on the tree. I might be missing a few minor details, but that's the gist of what he's trying to say about Christmas trees in the film. All it sounds like to me is Kirk Cameorn taking one of the first stories in the Book of Genesis in the Bible and basically blowing it out of proportion. What's even more stunning is how Christian is easily won over by Cameron's explanations, not objecting or questioning anything he is told.
But the real nail in the coffin is how Cameron ends his argument by contradicting what he tells us in the beginning: that atheists have taken the holiday away and that fundamental Christians have politicized the holiday. He goes on for an hour about all of the religious and biblical aspects of Christmas, but concludes the film with a speech about how we should actually go all out with feasting, because Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of the eternal God who took on a material body. Therefore, Christmas is filled with material things. He spends an hour telling us how we need to "put the Christ back into Christmas", but ends the film by acknowledging that materialism during Christmas is actually a good thing, because God took on a material body. Makes sense, right? No. No it doesn't.
- Saving Christmas also suffers big time from a lot of its technical aspects, as well as wooden acting and awkward dialogue. The lighting in many scenes is uninspired, looking as if they were shot in Kirk Cameron's backyard without proper lighting equipment or set construction. Christian has a complete word vomit of a line in which he tells his wife that he organized a hip-hop dance routine to express all of the love and joy of Christmas (when he organized such a routine is never explained). Something that really bugged me was how there were awkward pauses in between lines, as if everyone kept forgetting their lines but remembering them a few seconds into the take. Editing, camera angles, and everything else all look slapped together at the last minute by a crew who clearly didn't give a crap.
A week after the film's initial release, Cameron went on his Facebook page and responded to the horrid reviews by telling everyone to go on Rotten Tomatoes and tell critics that audiences decide what movies they want to watch and show to their families. But this was Kirk Cameron signing the movie's death warrant, as Internet users instead went on Rotten Tomatoes to berate the film even further. But being the smug S.O.B. that he is, Kirk Cameron came out later and blamed the film's hot mess of a reception on haters and atheists who purposefully went out to condemn the film.
I hated this movie, but I didn't hate it in a fiery, intense way that I have hated only a few select films that I have seen thus far in my lifetime. That's because as offensive and amateurish as the film is as a whole, I found it to be dreadfully boring more than anything. Saving Christmas doesn't feel like a movie, because it's almost nothing but Kirk Cameron just talking to you about Christmas for an hour. There's nothing to be invested in. There's nothing to take away from, except a newfound hatred towards Kirk Cameron after you sit through a wretched 79 minutes. My goal here in writing this review is to save your wonderful Christmas season from the devil's work that is Kirk Cameron talking about the "true, biblical meaning" of Christmas. It is a startlingly inept film from start to finish, and I pray to God that you will never have to waste a precious hour of your holiday season watching it like I unfortunately did. The only person who needs saving here is Kirk Cameron. I hope Santa gives him much worse than a lump of coal in his stocking every year for the rest of his life.
Recommend? Absolutely not. Whether you're a Christian or an atheist, don't even attempt to watch this movie.
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