It is generally accepted that the first Christmas movie ever made was the 1898 short film, Santa Claus, which, naturally enough, chronicled the visit of good Saint Nick to two sleeping children. More holiday-themed films quickly followed, with the reason for the season, Jesus, finally making the scene in 1912’s The Star of Bethlehem. Since then, silver bells and the silver screen have been pretty much inseparable.
The early days gave us true classics in the genre such as It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, films that still tug the heartstrings to this day. Of course, they also gave us stuff like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, so it wasn’t all good. By the time my generation came along, things had taken a definite cynical turn, but movies like A Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation still managed to balance their sharp tongues with a soft heart. These days, not so much. All Hollywood is offering us this Yuletide is Bad Santa 2, a movie twice as mean and half as funny as its predecessor, and Office Christmas Party, a film which posits a man sticking his genitals into a 3-D copier as the epitome of humor. Safe to say, they don’t make ’em like they used to.
The folks behind the new movie Believe would sure would like to give it a try, though. The film chronicles the trials and tribulations of Matthew Peyton (Ryan O’Quinn), the owner of a small town industrial plant which is inexplicably on the verge of bankruptcy. Along with the loss of much needed jobs, the company’s financial woes also mean Matthew will not be able to sponsor the town’s annual Christmas pageant, an event essential to the community’s financial well-being. Once this news gets out, Matthew quickly becomes the least popular man in town.
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