THE Three Types of Christmas Movies

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It’s one day from Halloween, and I’m writing an entry about Christmas, yes I know I am weird lol. But seriously, I couldn’t help but think about the idea of Christmas movies for a few reasons. One reason is due to the fact I am planning a special Christian Christmas movie night at the end of November; hopefully we’ll have snow by then so we can go tubing. Besides that though, I know very soon companies will start releasing their DVDs, TV Specials, commercials, products, etc for the “holiday season”. Because there are plenty of movies out there which are and have been made for the Christmas time of year, I couldn’t help but think more about them. At one point, I remembered some of my previous blog entries and movie reviews about Christmas, and I also remembered some of the previous Christmas films I’ve watched in the past and have heard other people talk about. And then it hit me. Really when you get past all of the details, there are really only three types of Christmas movies.

Before I get to what the three types are, I’m sure some of you maybe wondering… “Ben why does it matter?” Well it matters, because of what Christmas is supposed to be all about. Christmas is supposed to be about many things, but there are somethings which are emphasized which may not necessarily be as important as other details if even important at all. In fact some of these details are reasons why some don’t celebrate Christmas and even hate those who do practice it; or at least hate the time of year… Now this is very important to note, because some of those said people think that’s why people celebrate Christmas, when that isn’t true in actuality and if someone is actually doing it for those grrr-able reasons then they ought to reexamine their life. What are those details to which I am referring? They’ll be addressed as I’m revealing to you THE three Types of Christmas Movies:

1) Secular Christmas Movies. These were the common format for what a Christmas movie was back in the day. (when I say ‘back in the day’ I mean within the 90s and earlier.) I have enjoyed and currently own many of these types of movies. These type of Christmas Movies have to take place around Christmas time; in fact any Christmas movie must. These also emphasize certain ideas within the plot like Family, Peace, Joy, Love, Friendship, and Forgiveness which are very good things. What makes it secular, however, is the fact these movies won’t say much about Jesus; though might give a quick slip of a reference indirectly. Now I’m not saying that’s a completely bad thing, because I don’t expect all movies to talk about Jesus but with Christmas being what it is, all those other themes I mentioned a few sentences ago are secondary themes. Primarily this is done simply to reach out to a broader audience, which I can respect depending on how it’s done of course. I would argue such movies as Trapped in Paradise, All I Want for Christmas, A Muppet Family Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and others are good examples of Secular Christmas movies.

2) Christian Christmas Movies. I know that might sound like an oxymoron to some people, but unfortunately in today’s culture it is not. Now again I am not demonizing Secular Christmas movies, because there are some very good ones out there besides the examples I mentioned a moment ago. However, a good Christian Christmas film will do everything a Secular Christmas movie does, and will also not be afraid to tell people that Jesus is the reason for the season. It is, after all, THE Primary reason we ought to celebrate Christmas in the first place. If someone grrs at that idea, that’s too bad because that is nonnegotiable. I do not expect, nor should every Christmas movie to be a reenactment of the Nativity scene, because that isn’t the only way a movie can talk about Jesus Christ and some of those reenactments are questionable for interpretation anyhow. Sure movies like Christmas With a Capital C , Saint Nicholas, The Perfect Gift, and others are great movies made by Christian based groups, however not every Christian Christmas movie needs to be necessarily made by a Christian company. I mean there are other movies/TV Specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas, Noel, Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey, and others which are examples of Christian Christmas movies not necessarily made by a Christian based company.

3) Holiday Fluff. I wrote and talked about this a little bit last year, but it needs to be said again. Holiday Fluff in short is a concept which appears very sugary sweet and might even taste good with a quick lick, but when heavily consumed it gives the person a stomach ache and doesn’t satisfy their hunger. Unfortunately, this is the type of “Christmas” movie which is more popular in modern times. These types of movies promote stuff like shopping, decorating, Santa Claus, finding a tree, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, having family over at the house, wrapping presents, Frosty the Snow man, snow, opening presents, and other things/ideas which don’t necessarily need to even be apart of Christmas to make it Christmas. Holiday Fluff are also the types of movies which will absolutely REFUSE to talk about and show anything referring to Jesus Christ, the Nativity, or anything else which is Christian based at all; unless it’s in a negative way. Because of this complete refusal, companies will even go as far as trying to reinvent what it means to celebrate Christmas, and much of what they try to promote are what makes some people grr at the Holiday Season. Honestly, if Christmas was all about what Holiday Fluff tries to paint this time of year to be, I’d be standing right next to the protest sign holding Atheist in support. Despite this, however, there are some likeable Holiday Fluff movies including Elf, Christmas With The Kranks, and A Christmas Story. But then there are others like Gremlins, Die Hard, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Four Christmases, Olive the Other Reindeer, Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure, Home Alone 4 and others which make me think “How is this Christmas???”


Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler: A VeggieTales DVD Review

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A Big Idea Film

While waiting for The League of Extraordinary Vegetables to be released, I was interested in finding more titles to watch from the people of Big Idea. One in particular, gave me some interest because I have enjoyed some of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I know when Veggietales makes a remake of a story they tend to do it very well. Yes I wanted to watch Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler, because of the story element, and I was also curious what they had to say about friendship… Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler is actually two separate stories contained within one DVD feature.

The first story is called: The Asparagus of La Mancha which is a spin-off of the literary classic Don Quixote De La Mancha, (literary classic worth checking out by the way) in that it involves Don a dreaming Asparagus and Mr. Lunt who plays his sidekick Pancho, a spin-off of Sancho Panza. Don and Pancho together own a restaurant called “La Mancha”, which was popular until a competitor called “The Food Factory” moves in next door and starts stealing their business. When business is waning Don gets desperate due to the influence of his strange dreams, while Pancho is being tempted to leave his friend and work for the Food Factory. The second story, which is Sheerluck Holmes, concerns Sheerluck Holmes and Dr. Watson; played by Larry and Bob. They are assigned a huge case involving the theft of a treasure contained within the Palace. But there is more to the story than the mere mystery of who and how, this also is a commentary on how to not be a good friend. What lesson does Sheerluck Holmes need to learn in order to not only find the Golden Ruler, but also keep his friendship with Dr. Watson?

In all honesty, though Sheerluck Holmes was a decent story, I actually liked The Asparagus of La Mancha better between the two tales. For some reason there just seemed to be more detail to The Asparagus of La Mancha plotwise, and it provided a deeper message to me. Both stories are good about talking about how to be a good friend, both at times were funny, the silly song: The Gated Community was a goofy barbershop quartet, and I like their overall theological message. Yes I do give this movie a strong recommendation, it’s worth checking out if you haven’t heard about it yet.

Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Overcome: A DVD Review

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A Wisenquest film

When I first saw this on Netflix, I thought I hadn’t seen it before, but as I started watching this I’m thinking to myself: “This looks familiar.” I realized after a few minutes into the movie that I had seen this a few years back on either TBN or JCTV. Of course you’re probably wondering “So then what did you think of it?”, well I honestly didn’t remember what I had thought of the film when I first saw it so I had to watch the entire thing over again to see what I thought of everything in Overcome.

Overcome is a self-described film which is a modernized version of Saul’s conversion and transformation into the Apostle Paul. Colton is a bad boy who enjoys hanging out with the wrong crowd, encourages others to do evil through peer pressure, steals from his work and sister, and is just a downright bully to everyone around him. One day after a friend and he were getting drunk at a party, they decide to drive home when they get into an auto accident. Colton’s friend has a few scratches, but Colton is nearly killed because of their foolishness and only through his parent’s prayers God spares his life. The other driver is a girl who is aspiring to become a tennis champion, but her leg is now broken thanks to Colton’s misconduct. Colton, hearing of how he nearly died, gets the wake up call he needed and decides to turn over a new leaf. Colton regrets what he did and wants to start being a good kid, but that journey is hard and difficult; especially when he confronts his former gang.

Overcome is a movie that has a very nice concept, but the way they wrote this plotline I felt they ought to have made this into a TV series rather than a movie. I feel this would have made a much better idea for a TV Series, because of the incomplete ending the movie has as well as the concept of Colton wanting to make amends with people; could have been a Christian version of “My Name is Earl.” Since this was just a movie though, I couldn’t help but feel things turned around too quickly and ended too conveniently. The acting was ok, but could have been better at times. The inspirational themes were ok, but again they could have expanded on things better theologically; again if this were to have been made into a TV series I feel it would have been presented more effectively. After watching this, I could see why I didn’t remember everything…

Movie Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

Disciplines of a Godly Family by Kent and Barbara Hughes

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By Kent and Barbara Hughes

Family is a word and concept talked about a lot in our society, but the idea of Family isn’t something people necessarily put enough practice or importance into as often as they should. Now I am desiring become a father in the near future, and because of that desire I want to prepare myself for that role in multiple ways. I picked up this book at my local Christian bookstore, because I want to learn how to be a great Dad, when the time comes, and I need any advice/suggestions to be ones which will glorify God. I wanted to see if the Hughes Family had some great, biblically based tips for readers like me.

Disciplines of a Godly Family is a sequel/expansion to Disciplines of a Godly Man, which was written by Kent Hughes, and Disciplines of a Godly Woman, which was written by Barbara Hughes. Together they share various details and suggestions on building/maintaining a great family. Some of the ideas they share are ones which they personally practiced together as a family, and others are ideas which they feel they should have used more often or used more effectively. The tips and advice shared within this book range from vacations, manners, discipline, food, education, character, Holidays, bonding activities, and many other important topics.

Obviously, Disciplines of a Godly Family did not address EVERYTHING, but what I did read was very good. It’s no surprise that some of the stuff The Hughes talk about are worth tweaking, but like they say in the book ” each family is unique“. Although certain details are going to be limited due to income or physical ability, much of the suggestions and advice I believe are reachable goals. I especially like how they emphasize the importance of reading; it is a dying trait in our society… (unless it’s a book which has recently become a movie) I like how they admit that no family is perfect, and that they don’t expect the reader to practice everything they talk about, because it shows honesty and consideration; they certainly had some hard times too and let readers know they will too. After reading Disciplines of a Godly Family not only do I plan to read this a second time, this time a loud with the wife, but also heavily encourage you to buy this today if you’re also desiring to start a family soon.

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Smitty: A DVD Review

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A Phase 4 Film

Recently a dog I grew up with passed away… Though before I graduated high school I grew allergic to him, Obie was a good dog and my family and I loved him. Keeping this in mind, I felt it was good to finally write the review to this particular movie I saw before Obie passed on. Smitty is a story about a boy and his dog, though there are certainly more details to this story too.

Smitty is about a boy named Ben who hangs out with the wrong crowd. He participates in vandalizing a Chinese Restaurant and is betrayed by the hoodlums he’s hanging with when they lock him inside the restaurant’s freezer. Ben is arrested and the court tells Ben and his mother “you have a choice. Ben can spend three years in Juvenile Detention or three months with his grandfather.” Ben’s mother, who has a flawed relationship with her father, reluctantly prefers her son to be with his grandfather; whom he’ll be meeting for the first time. While living on his grandfather’s farm, Ben is forced to adjust from city to country life and must learn how to be a real man. One friend Ben makes along the way is a farm dog recently acquired by his grandfather.

Smitty is hilarious. I found this movie pretty funny, especially the first few interactions with Ben and his grandpa. I felt the story itself was very good, because it had a good balance of humor along with suspense and inspiration. The acting was very good; part of this is due to the veteran actors apart of the cast.  I think this is a great story for the whole family and give this a strong recommendation, though to be warned there is a little swearing in Smitty, but the context of it is only to show Ben’s lack of discipline early in the story.

TCP Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

The Lost and Found Family: A DVD Review

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An Affirm Film

Ooo that kid from the Hannah Montana movie is in this; lol. No he was not the reason why I watched this film, in all Honesty I didn’t know he was in it until I started watching it since I saw this on Netflix and they didn’t have that yellow sticker they show in the picture here. But anyway! I wanted to watch this, because this seemed to be addressing an important topic which I don’t think a lot of people really think about… The Lost and Found Family seemed like a movie which would address life, family, wealth, and other similarly linked topics; I had no idea though it would be as dark as it was…

The Lost and Found Family is about a woman who recently loses her husband and also finds out due to some poor investments he made while living she’s also lost her wealthy lifestyle too. Most of what she has is forced to be sold in order to cover bills and such, but there is a piece of property which is unaffected: a Foster home in Atlanta. Her lawyer and friend tells her: “If you want to have any sort of money to survive upon, you need to sell that house.” At first she thinks this is a great idea and has her lawyer try to find someone interested in buying the property, however once she arrives she learns what seems easy enough isn’t as black and white as she thought as she has to temporarily live with the family in question…

From the original look of the cover, I was expecting this to have more comedic moments, but this is actually kind of a serious film. The Lost and Found Family addresses some topics people either don’t know much about or would prefer to stay away from. Some might be thinking: “what is shown in the movie isn’t realistic”, however from personal experience I can testify the movie not only addressed something real especially in regard to the “mother” with the hair extensions, but they probably could have gone into the topic much darker than the movie did. I felt the acting was decent and the plot was good; though how things get better I think happened too quickly. I love what Esther says about the word “salvage” at the end, as well as what she says about the tea cups, and the main theme of God closing one door in order to open another. I don’t recommend this for young children considering the seriousness of certain topics/events like drugs, but I do feel this is a decent movie overall.

TCP Movie Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Woodcarver (WWJD II): A DVD Review

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A Nasser Group North film

Though John Ratzenberger had a smaller part in the movie What if…? I thought he was great in that movie. In addition to liking his previous performance as well as his work for Pixar, I bought this DVD because the plot premise seemed like this would be both comedic and inspirational. Interestingly enough, when I first opened The Woodcarver case I saw the disc stated this was also WWJD II. If you are familiar with some of my previous entries, you should know that I did watch WWJD the Movie and thought it was a pretty decent film, but will this second be just as good?

Like WWJD the Movie, The Woodcarver is multiple stories weaved together very finely. The primary story concerns fifteen year old Matt Stevenson who is caught on camera vandalizing a Baptist Church; why he did this you’ll have to find out. The Pastor of First Baptist Church gathers Matt and his parents together, and tells them that if Matt repairs the damaged done the church will not press charges. Another story concerns Matt’s parents who are currently separated, and are struggling to deal with all their family’s drama and strife. The third story concerns Ernest Otto, the woodcarver who originally carved the church’s woodwork, who hasn’t carved in years due to his wife’s death. Ernest is now commissioned by the church to rebuild what was once destroyed, though a certain construction company would prefer him to not complete the job… All together each of these stories eventually beg everyone the question: “What Would Jesus Do?”

This movie has given me an appreciation for anything that is hand carved. I felt the movie impressively described and demonstrated what it means to be a woodcarver and how difficult it is of a task;  I wonder what Jesus Christ’s wood work looked like. The message presented, like the first WWJD movie, was very good of a reminder especially for those who haven’t gone to church in a while. This is a story about manhood, mentorship, family, character, and hard work. The only downsides I can honestly give are two things: 1) Matt and his dad’s actors could have been better at times, though the acting was decent overall 2) some parts of the story’s plotline were kind of predictable at least for me. Other than those two things I can definitely say this is a great movie for the family and glad to have this in my Christian movie collection.

TCP Movie Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.