“Saving Christmas” Movie Review and Giveaway

Christmas is just six weeks away! But for many Christians, there’s an internal struggle with this celebration. For some it may just be a few fleeting thoughts that give them pause. But for others, it can be a raging conflict between their desire to honor and glorify God and the Western cultural expressions of Christmas.

Is it okay to participate in all the holiday hoopla? Should we be surrounding the Christmas tree with so many presents? Isn’t that a participation in the gross commercialization of Christmas that has stolen the meaning of this high holy day? Should we even have a tree? It’s just a throwback to an old pagan tradition, right? And what about Santa? A mythological character who makes a list and checks it twice, who is somehow aware whether every kid is naughty or nice — that sounds a whole lot like God Himself. Isn’t Santa somehow blasphemous? Even the very date of this celebration is suspect. No one knows when Jesus was born. Didn’t the church steal December 25th from the pagan rituals of the Winter Solstice?

It’s not that Christians are trying to be argumentative or disparaging. For the most part, even staunch anti-Christmas believers are ultimately motivated by a desire to honor Jesus. They want their worship to be pure, in spirit and in truth. But the real question is this: Do all the traditional Christmas celebration trappings pervert our worship? Or — could it be possible — that they actually enhance it?

Where is Christ in the modern Christmas? That is precisely what Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas intends to answer.

In the story, Kirk’s character is attending a large Christmas party at his sister’s house (played by his real-life sister). Set in a big, beautiful home decked out in holiday cheer, the story opens with co-workers, friends and family enjoying festive foods and Christmas music. Everyone is having a good time — everyone except Kirk’s on-screen brother-in-law, Christian. Peering around the house at the decorations and partygoers, he sees nothing but materialism and pagan symbolism, and he soon decides that he can’t participate in it.

Kirk finds him outside in the car deeply bothered by what he perceives as an ungodly celebration taking place in his house. Kirk slips gently into the passenger seat, and the movie unfolds as his character shares a different perspective on Christmas and all its modern traditions.

So, here’s the bottom line: we really enjoyed the movie.

Now, we happen to be people who love a good documentary. Maybe it’s the homeschooler in us. And we also love a good movie. In fact, we so appreciate a good movie, that we actually invest in a huge popcorn bucket once a year from our local movie theater so we can get cheap refills all year long.

Saving Christmas is part good-documentary and part fun family movie — a win-win for us!

Why We Liked It

Okay, so maybe we’re a tad biased. For anyone who follows our blog, you know that we had the awesome opportunity to participate in a conference call last week with Kirk Cameron. Had we not already been impressed with him (which we were), the call would have made us big fans. If you have not yet read the details, take a moment to click over there now. We think you’ll become a fan too (or maybe just a bigger one).

We came into the movie already expecting to like it. Plus, the environment was ripe for a good time. Our families got together at Jenni’s house. We had great food and good conversation before the film. Then, the kids all piled on the floor with pillows and blankets, and the adults gathered on the big sectional couch.

So, although we might have been predisposed to a positive review, there were many things that we found genuinely praiseworthy.

For starters, the information was really cool! We will never look at a Christmas tree or Santa Claus or even the Nativity Scene the same way again. And we really liked the way they presented the information. Kirk’s character introduces an opposing viewpoint to someone whose mind is already made up. That’s not an easy thing to do, but his delivery was awesome. We can learn a lot from his example about how to disagree in both a gentle and effective way.

The movie was also surprisingly funny. Even our teens (who think they have the market cornered on what is or isn’t funny) bursted out with some big laughs a few times during the movie. Speaking of teens, that particular age group seems to define what’s cool in any given generation. So once you have teens in your house, you get to be hip again for a little while (at least vicariously). We were surprised at how cool some aspects of the movie were. Christian movies have a reputation for being exceedingly cheesy (cool’s arch nemesis), and although this film didn’t entirely escape the stereotype (more on that below), some of the music choices and the humor were actually quite contemporary (even by a teen standard).

In short — we like it when a film can be informative and entertaining. This one was both.

Our Constructive Criticism

When it comes to critique, we are big fans of the sandwich method: something genuinely positive — something constructive — something genuinely positive. On the whole, we honestly enjoyed this movie, and we strongly recommend that you (and everyone you know) heads to the theaters this weekend to see it. It’s not a perfect film (we’ll explain why in a moment), but you are sure to learn new things and be entertained at the same time.

At a few points in the film, the dialogue was slow and awkward. There’s one scene in particular in Kirk’s sister’s kitchen that felt more like we were watching a play, making it hard to get lost in the dialogue, as we’d normally do in a movie.

The film opens on Kirk Cameron, nestled in a red, leather, barrel chair, sipping hot cocoa and surrounded by an enormous and shining display of Christmas cheer. Behind him towers a massive tree, adorned with glimmering decorations. On one side, a fire crackles beneath the traditional Christmas hearth, fully strung with a lush and beautifully decorated evergreen garland. And all around him is the richness of traditional holiday decor and gifts of all sizes, resplendent with beautiful paper and ribbons.

The scene itself is almost a foreshadowing of the movie’s message, and although it’s an appropriate introduction to the film, we felt that it could have been cut shorter. It seems to drag on a bit longer than necessary.

Once the story opens, we are thrust into the party without much introduction to the characters or the storyline. Perhaps that’s because the movie is slightly more docu-drama than straight-up family flick. If you weren’t expecting that, your disappointment meter might cry “foul!” But again, we LOVE a documentary, so it was all good for us.

At the end, viewers are entertained with a fun song-and-dance number, which begins with a slow motion sequence that is funny, but could stand to be cut shorter. That’s true of the whole ending scene. Although the dance invites you to view Christmas as a time of joy and celebration, the scene lingers like a bad party guest.

Again, we really want to stress that we enjoyed this movie. We believe it’s important that Christians have tools to defend their beliefs, and this film definitely arms you with tools. So, go see it opening weekend and enjoy it. You will glean some great information, and you will laugh!

Why You Should See It THIS Weekend

We’ve already given you our take on why we like this film, but we want you to leave our blog today DETERMINED to spend your hard-earned money on tickets to see it THIS WEEKEND!

First, let’s start with what YOU and YOUR FAMILY will get out of the experience. We are pretty sure that you have struggled at times with the whole Western expression of Christmas — most Christians seem to have some degree of this struggle. Saving Christmas will answer a lot of questions that you may have, and it will give you the words to share your beliefs with others. Plus, you’re likely to find funny caricatures of people from your own church or family. We, totes loved the Pentecostal peeps! LOL

Consider bringing your unsaved friends and family, but do it prayerfully. The gospel is presented beautifully in multiple ways throughout the movie, but it’s not your standard Hollywood Christmas film. If they are expecting Elf, they might get too caught up in critiquing the film to actually hear the message.

But there’s another reason that we think you (and everyone in your church) should make plans to see Saving Christmas THIS WEEKEND!

Every time we head out to see a faith-based film during opening weekend, we send Hollywood a message. And with the success of Christian themed movies in recent years, the film industry is taking note.

It started with the runaway success of The Passion in 2004, which made more than $611 million in total (it was made on a $30 million budget). Then in 2008, Fireproof took the industry by surprise when the grassroots film, which cost just $500,000 to make (raised by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia) grossed more than $33 million at the box office.

This year, God’s Not Dead ranked the the 3rd highest per-screen attendance nationwide in it’s second week, beating out the popular Divergent film. Later on in the year, Heaven is For Real came in second place on opening weekend, surpassed only by Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Let’s stun Hollywood once again, and let filmmakers know that we want more movies like this for our families — something we can enjoy with all of our kids without having to compromise our values even slightly.

A Teenager’s Perspective

We screened Saving Christmas with our families, and one of our teens wrote her take on it. We thought you might enjoy a kid’s perspective.

Saving Christmas did indeed save the holidays in my opinion. I’ve always been skeptical of the traditions even as I embraced them, hoping I wasn’t celebrating some form of hidden deception within the season’s traditions.

From an informative perspective, the film was helpful and eye opening. Each point made was surprising and enlightening. I will for sure see Christmas this year through different eyes, and I am left feeling more free to embrace the entire season and all its traditions.

Not only was it informative, it was funny! I loved the, “Funky Shirt Friday” guy and the “Everything is a Conspiracy” character. I really enjoyed the humor surrounding the information.

The storyline? Not as much.

Don’t get me wrong! I liked the gist of it, but I felt like it could have been developed more. For a movie, the plot was a bit bare. For a documentary, it was brilliant!

From an acting perspective I felt that some of the dialogue and lines dragged. As an actor myself, I felt that there were too many unnecessary acting beats. A few lines here and there felt cheesy and unneeded. I know a movie is good when I feel like the lines aren’t rehearsed. Having performed in a professional opera house for nearly 6 years, I’m familiar with the process of rehearsing lines and getting into character. This movie sat somewhere between the obviously-rehearsed lines and more involved, realistic acting. Some scenes were good, and others fell short in a few places.

On the whole, I would definitely recommend this film to my Christian friends. My secular friends maybe not as much. But overall, I walked away impressed with the film.

Skyler Stahlmann is Jenni’s 15 year-old daughter. She sings at the Sarasota Opera House, plays in a Christian rock youth band and runs a successful henna tattoo business. Skyler is an award-winning writer whose has been selected twice as a winner at the prestigious Florida Studio Theatre Young Playwrights Festival.

Win Signed Movie Memorabilia and Soundtrack

Want to win a movie poster signed by Kirk Cameron, a movie soundtrack and a Christmas Tree scented movie car freshener? It’s super easy. Just scroll to the top of this post and sign up to receive email updates from POP Parenting. Then leave a comment below letting us know you did it. If you are already an email subscriber, leave a comment and tell us. We’ll do a drawing on Friday and notify you by email.




(In accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

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Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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