Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Christmas Project warms the heart and inspires the mind

Movie Title:  The Christmas Project

Grade:  A-

Rating:  G, 1 hour 28 minutes

In a Nutshell: Think “The Wonder Years” meets “The Christmas Story.”  

This sweet, family-friendly Christmas movie is a heartwarming reminder about showing love and forgiveness during the Christmas season… and all year round.

I liked the movie even before I realized it was based on the books “Chicken in the Headlights and “Bullies in the Headlights”, written by an old writing friend of mine, Matthew Buckley!  We used to belong to the same writing group when he got his first book published.  I’m so happy that some of his work has been turned into a movie!  The screenplay was written by Sally Meyer and originally entitled, “The Elving Project.”

If your family is looking for something special to do this Christmas season, consider creating your own “Elving Project” tradition!

Uplifting theme: 
  • “We all make mistakes sometimes.” – Ralph Buckley (Brian Neal Clark)
  • Payback or love back?   Love your enemies.

Things I liked:
  • Hilarious 80’s clothes and hairstyle on the mom, played by Alison Akin Clark.  As a mother of 4 sons, like she is in the movie, I could definitely relate to being pregnant and feisty.
  • The narrator’s voice was soothing and magical.
  • Jacob Buster was really great.  What a little cutie.  For such a young kid, he has already been in a ton of movies and is currently living in LA, working on a new project.
  • Super cool pirate ship.  My husband always wanted to build something like that for our 4 sons.  He still feels badly about not ever building that, but he DID construct a tree house and zipline!
  • “Time out” in the bathtub was pretty funny.  Why didn’t I ever think of that?
  • Filmed in Mapleton, Utah, the film had almost 100% Utah actors and film crew.
  • Director Michael Buster and his wife catch the charm of an old-fashioned holiday tale.  They worked on the film for about two years together.  And yes, they’re still married!
  • The Buckley parents are married in real life: Brian Neal Clark and Alison Akin Clark.
  • OK, I kind of feel a special connection to this film, because I sort of know one of the actors.  Anson Bagley is super cute and does a terrific job as Simon Buckley.  His mom and I worked together as online instructors at Brigham Young University a couple of years ago.  I remember her telling me that she and her kids were making fun videos on YouTube.  They named their channel “Working with Lemons.”  Many of their videos have hit well over 500,000 views! Some of them are close to 200 million!

Things I didn’t like:
  • It's extremely predictable.
  • Sometimes the actors looked like they were really excited to be in a movie and forgot to act.
  • None of the boys really looked like they could actually be brothers.  Still, they were all pretty doggone cute.
  • I would have liked to learn more about Earl, the bus driver (played by Marlon V. Gaines).  Still, I thought his relationship and advice to Matthew were both very sweet.

Funny lines:
  • “That’s it!  We’re getting chickens!” – Ralph Buckley
  • “Stop, Fardin!” – Matthew

Tips for parents: 

  • This is really safe and enjoyable for all ages.
  • Some boys get punched and pranked by a bully.
  • No profanity.  Very clean.  Thank you!  We can always count on the Mormons to keep it clean!

Click on the picture below to purchase a copy for your family for this Christmas!

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