To say that Saving Christmas is a terrible movie is to say nothing at all. I can’t imagine that anyone who reads Uproxx or who lives within a 250-mile radius of reality could’ve thought that CamFam’s latest would be anything but insufferable Bible Belt fare. So it might seem a little cruel to make fun of a movie that only pulled in $1 million opening weekend. And it might seem a little easy to mock Kirk Cameron, easily this planet’s most mockable man. Still, I think it’s okay to wage war (aka, write blogpost) against a movie that is so deeply angry towards the very people it’s trying to convince and the very country it pretends to defend. For all its claims to brotherly love (or as Kirk Cameron would call it, “bro” love), Saving Christmas isn’t ultimately a defense of the holiday or even of Christianity. It’s a well-disguised, carefully constructed, feature-length attack on empathy. It is boring it is cruel it is dated it is smug and yes, it is terrible.
Before I get into the politics of Saving Christmas, I’d like to take a moment to discuss the “story’s” “structure,” which deserves all the ironic quotes this world can offer. One of the first things you learn in freshman year English/kindergarten is that good storytellers don’t tell, they show. But Kirk Cameron, being oh god, Kirk Cameron – tells, then tells some more, then, oh god, keeps telling. Watching a CamFam story is sort of like being on a date where the other person thinks the key to success is to keep talking, at full volume, about nothing and/or themselves, for the next ninety minutes/two hours/seventy-three years of your life.
The parallel is easy to see: Saving Christmas doesn’t know how to talk to audiences because it’s too busy listening to itself. Kirk Cameron spends most of the movie preaching to Christian, his disgruntled brother-in-law who hides in his car during a Christmas party because he loves Jesus/hates materialism. Over the course of ninety minutes, Cameron corrects each of Christian’s doubts about the holiday with a ponderous, aka outrageously boring, biblical anecdote. There’s no plot, no climax, no beginning, middle, or end. There’s just the doubter’s doubt, followed by the believer’s belief, followed by me, falling asleep in the aisle. An average scene looks something like this:
Christian: I don’t like Christmas because of [totally legitimate reason]
Cameron: I totally [don’t] hear you! But I disagree because [I am a cult leader]. Would you like to hear a story from the Bible that confirms [that I am great]?
Christian: I’d love that!
Cameron: Yeah, bro! [Proceeds to tell unrelated story about rocks for the next thirty minutes].
Christian: God you’re great.
Cameron: Haha, no you are [er actually wait I meant MEEEEE!]
But just because a movie lacks structure, or because its director suffers from a personality disorder, doesn’t make it a bad movie. We can measure a story’s strength in the same way we can measure a person’s character: by judging their content. And Saving Christmas, for all its singing and clapping and black people dancing, isn’t a feel-good movie after all. It’s an angry story, grounded in insularity and narcissism and a pervasively cynical attitude towards the very people it pretends to love.