- Year: 2014
- Director: Darren Doane
- Starring: Kirk Cameron, Darren Doane, Bridget Ridenour
Today’s special has the tagline “Put Christ back in Christmas.” Yeah, didn’t you know it’s just been Mas the last 200 years? Who knew? Apparently Kirk Cameron, former child star and current somehow-still-kind-of-a-thing, knew and he’s going to tell you about it whether you like it or not. If you take a look at the characters who have saved Christmas in the past, you will sense a common theme.
They are all smarter than Kirk Cameron. Saving Christmas was something of an internet phenomenon when it came out in 2014, due to Kirk Cameron’s attempt at salvaging it backfiring. When the initial reviews were bad, Cameron told people to get on Rotten Tomatoes and give the film a positive audience score, showing those critics who the real critics are. Let’s see how that turned out.
It’s like Kirk Cameron doesn’t even know how the internet works. When you ask for a favor, of course you’re going to get trolled.
Even though this film is directed by Darren Doane, Kirk’s so vain he thinks it’s about him. In fact, the movie just starts with Kirk telling us everything the movie aims to do.
He criticizes both the people who don’t care for Christmas because they don’t care for religion and the people who don’t care for Christmas because it goes against the religion they care about. Got that? He also presents this as if it’s some big fight going on that really needs a conclusion now. Kirk suggests we need a “voice from the outside” to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas, and apparently Kirk, the man whose name appears above the title and who alone addresses the audience to start the movie, implies he is that outside voice. A little prideful for a Christian movie, no? Just for fun, let’s see how many of the seven deadly sins Kirk breaks over the course of the film.
After Kirk’s fireside chat, we get an opening title followed by Kirk complaining about how stories have become less violent over the years, and then we get some more opening titles. Over these opening titles, we get a samba version of “Silent Night,” because no one understands irony, and then our movie actually starts… almost 9 minutes into a movie shorter than 90 minutes.
Kirk then freezes on a shot of himself, just in case we forgot which one he was. Can I mark that pride box twice?
We also meet his sister (Bridgette Ridenour, not the one from Full House) and her husband Christian (Darren Doane), because we haven’t been subtle so far so why start now. Christian doesn’t pour hot chocolate on top of his sacrifices like his brother-in-law Kirk, and Kirk is determined to change that. Kirk explains to the audience (STILL? We get the point of the movie.) that where some see all the good things about Christmas, others see commercialism, paganism, and elf worship. What religion has Mr. Cameron come across where they worship elves?
The final nail in Christian’s Christmas coffin is his conversation with Diondre (David Shannon). I really honestly have no idea what this character is supposed to be, but he feels like someone doing a parody of a Tyler Perry character. Seeing how Perry’s characters are already caricatures, this comes off as painfully racist. He even complains about “the man” keeping him down by banning Crazy Shirt Fridays at the office, and how he’s going to march for Straight Power. I cannot tell if this a parody of a parody of a parody, what Kirk Cameron thinks black people are actually like, or some third option so far out of my range I haven’t grasped it yet. Regardless, it is painfully awkward. (It’s even worse in the extended scene in the credits where he talks about singing “We Shall Overcome.”)
Christian goes out to his car for a little peace and quiet, but Kirk, unable to leave him alone, meets him out there. Christian explains his issues with the huge Christmas party being thrown and brings up the actually good question of how much good could be done for the needy with the money spent on the party. He goes on take issue with how minimally the snow globe with the Nativity scene is featured in comparison to the rest of the decorations.
Kirk tells Christian that he’s wrong about everything, because why would you worry about the poor at Christmas?
If you’re sick of me talking about A Christmas Carol by this point, just skip ahead because I’m going to do it again. Charles Dickens presented Ebenezer Scrooge as a man who needed to learn a lesson about Christmas, and this was shown by his refusal to give the poor. Kirk Cameron is presenting Christian as a man who needs to learn a lesson about Christmas because he wants to give to the poor. In the beginning, he even talked about how great it was that donations go up this time of year, but now he’s like “Nah, you’re all wrong.”
He also explains to Christian how important the nativity scene is and how the rest of the decorations tie into it. Kirk wants to deconstruct our typical view of the manger scene, forgetting the “white skin and clean clothes,” which is just fine if he hadn’t cast white actors as Mary and Joseph!
And those nutcrackers that make the holiday more festive? They aren’t nutcrackers at all. They’re Herod’s soldiers coming to kill the newborn king. Merry Christmas, everybody. Also, while we’re at it, screw Tchaikovsky.
So do Kirk and Christian have a back-and-forth debate about the issues presented? Nope! Christian just tells Kirk that he was right about everything and that he never looked at it that way. So it’s that kind of movie. One character has all the questions, the other has all the answers, and that’s it.
Meanwhile, Diondre has a conversation with a conspiracy theorist at the party in what can only be described as padding. They talk about things like the 9/11 conspiracy documentary Loose Change, “Area 52,” and the “Picasso Code,” and again I am not sure if this is parody. Much of this scene is shot with coffee cups in front of the characters’ faces so they can just add the dialogue in post. That is the textbook definition of laziness, so there’s sloth for you.
Alright, so what is Strawman… I mean Christian’s next issue that Kirk gets to knock down? Christmas trees. Why? Because they come from Pagan traditions where they worshiped trees. Are you really so worried that if you put a tree up in your house it’s just going to command you to worship it?
So does Kirk tell him to calm down because it’s just a tree? Of course not. We have Christmas trees, not because of pagan cultures, but because of Jesus. There was a tree in the Garden of Eden and the cross Jesus died on was made of wood, so of course that led directly to Christmas trees.
But of course this also blows Christian’s mind, because he never looked at it that way before. Isn’t this marvelous character development? Alright, what’s next on Christian’s airing of grievances? Could it be… Satan?
I am not joking. Christian actually uses the Church Lady argument of how Santa and Satan have the same letters, therefore making Santa evil. Kirk even breaks into “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” to stall for time I suppose. He manages to sing only a small portion of the song but still gets multiple lyrics incorrect:
You better watch out, you better not pout
You better not cry, I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you are awake
He knows if you’ve been good or bad, so be good for goodness sake.
Look, it’s a Kirk Cameron film, so I expect him to play fast and loose with Scripture, but how does he manage to mess up this many lyrics to a Christmas standard? Why is he singing it anyway? OK maybe I’m stalling for time, because I know I have to talk about Kirk’s interpretation of Santa Claus.
Of course, Kirk tells Christian he’s all wrong about Santa as well. He begins by saying “The real Santa Claus was a real bad, bad dude, and when I say bad I mean bad in the good way,” not bad like the Santa they hired for the party.
Kirk tells us to imagine Santa Claus as “a little more Lord of the Rings-y.” Ah, so like L. Frank Baum did with The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus?
No? Oh, are we going to talk about the Norse god Odin who was both an inspiration for Gandalf and our common perception of Santa Claus?
Nope, Kirk wants to talk about the real St. Nicholas, a man he claims was famous for his kindness. Hey, if you’re going to talk about how kind someone was, it doesn’t help to visually depict them like this.
Hey kids, go sit on this guy’s lap. He’s probably had a few ales and gotten in a bar fight, but he’s really kind and giving. So which of his stories is Kirk going tell? How about the one where he hurt those who didn’t agree with him?
Yes, that’s right, of all the stories attributed to St. Nicholas, we get to hear the one where he struck Arius in the face at the Council of Nicaea simply for not agreeing with him. Now of course, this story is apocryphal, because history shows that Arius was not at the council of Nicaea (again, it’s called the internet, Kirk), but why stop a heroic story of violence? Kirk makes this whole thing an argument against political correctness and praises Nicholas for not “going soft on truth.” Violence is the answer. Merry Christmas.
This final argument blows Christian’s mind yet again, and now he is a changed man. Roll credits… oh wait there’s still HALF AN HOUR OF THIS MOVIE LEFT.
Christian re-enters the party, now completely careless and about the poor and fully in the Christmas spirit, because those things now go hand in hand. Now, like Kirk, he sees the presents piled high by the tree as the city skyline of Bethlehem (a serious argument made, not kidding). He apologizes to his wife for not seeing the true meaning of Christmas sooner. It’s like Kirk Cameron’s sick, twisted version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Maybe Christmas, he guessed, just came from a mall
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means nothing at all
What do these classic Christmas specials that criticize commercialism know? Jesus wants his Christmas to be about materialism. You’re a bad man, Charlie Brown, for not getting the biggest tree. How dare you think Christmas was about anything else?
Out of nowhere, we break into a five-minute dance to “Angels We Have Heard on High,” because this movie wasn’t padded enough already.
I’ve criticized Adam Sandler movies in the past for just being excuses for the actors to record their parties, but this is literally just a recording of a party… but we’re STILL not done. Kirk has to tell us about Christmas dinner, and why we should spend as much as possible on food and stuff our faces.
It’s only appropriate we celebrate with material things, Kirk says, because Jesus came in a material body. Yeah sure, those two words mean the same things. Did you know Halloween is actually a celebration of Jack Nicholson because we light Jack-O-Lanterns? The light that glows from the lit pumpkins greatly displays a Shining. See how easy this is?
Look, I’ve watched a lot of bad Christmas specials for this series. Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas was painful…
No you’re wrong… about everything.
You’re missing the whole meaning. Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas perfectly shows us the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas has been made far too beautiful in comparison to its rough, beastly roots. We’ve toned down the stories where Santa hits people and have beautified them. Note how the organ in the film, an instrument often found in a church, is the one trying to keep Christmas tough.
You just don’t get it. They recycled animation to show the way God makes old things new. The person on the cover who was nowhere in the movie? Sometimes when God changes us, it’s like we’re an entirely different person. Think of all the money they saved by skimping on animation. Think of all the Christmas parties they could fund with that.
Well you’re not giving up at this point, so what about Santa Claus Conquers the Martians?
You see, the Martians represent the people of earth who knew they needed a savior. Santa came to them..
He was kidnapped.
Just like Jesus was tied up to a cross.
You’re mixing your metaphors again.
You just don’t get it.
Yeah I don’t have a damn clue.
It’s misguided, offensive, and ridiculously padded, but is Saving Christmas the worst special yet? Is a Christian film where the “hero” manages to break five of the seven deadly sins worse than the Star Wars Holiday Special? At least that had a simple message of coming home for the holidays. At the end of the day, I have to ask myself that which I would watch again if I had to watch one. While Saving Christmas is awful, it’s hilariously awful. It will make you want to yell at the screen for how wrong it is about everything. The Star Wars Holiday Special is painfully boring, and the first twenty minutes especially are almost impossible to sit through. It holds the title by a hair.