William R. Moses in Christmas Child (2004)

Moses at Christmas

Chicago journalist Jack Davenport (William R. Moses) has never known anything of his past having been adopted as a baby, but a few months after his adoptive father passed away Jack finds himself with some papers and photos which suggest he was born in Clearwater, Texas. Having always felt a need to know where he came from and who his parents were especially when every Christmas they spend it with his wife's family Jack decides to head to Clearwater whilst on his way to Dallas for a Christmas assignment. With just a photo of an old church and a life-sized nativity Jack tries to find out more about his past. Having found the local judge a bit wary of releasing such information Jack becomes intrigued by the life sized nativity display carved by a man called Joe Ottolman (Grant James) who not only lost his wife in a car accident but also his daughter, putting his daughter's newly born baby up for adoption before then disappearing.

When a movie doesn't quite work it is some times difficult to put a finger on what it is which is wrong and that is the situation I find myself in with "Christmas Child". Here we have one of those Christmas mystery movies where the central character is trying to get to the bottom of an old mystery and by chance they are solving the mystery at Christmas. What that really means, and it is one of the reasons that "Christmas Child" doesn't quite work, is that rather than being a movie about Christmas it is just one set at the time, using the songs and decorations of the festive season as part of its attempt to appeal.

Steven Curtis Chapman in Christmas Child (2004)

That leads me to what else doesn't quite work as "Christmas Child" doesn't have a warm appealing atmosphere. Part of that is down to is using Christmas as just part of a setting but also because it is inconsistent when it comes to atmosphere and so it can suddenly go from no atmosphere to then throwing in an orchestral version of a Christmas carol to try and get you feeling festive, only it feels forced. Basically the whole thing struggles to gel and at times it feels like we have these different story elements in boxes and they are banging in to each other corner first and that includes Jack's own strained marriage with his wife pregnant, something he knows nothing about.

What this also means is that "Christmas Child" puts a lot of weight on William R. Moses to carry the movie through times of mystery and whilst Moses is a likeable actor he doesn't quite have the strength to carry it. In fact with Moses playing a man who goes snooping it reminded me strongly of the Perry Mason movies he used to appear in.

What this all boils down to is that whilst "Christmas Child" is entertaining it doesn't quite come together to draw you in with either the mystery or with the festive spirit of it.

Tags: Christmas Movies