Christmas in Canaan (2009)
Having Some Christmas
Watching a lot of movies especially TV movies I often find myself torn because I can watch a movie and know it is bad with a poor script, lacks in realism and features some dodgy acting but because it has heart and a good message none of that seems to matter. That brings me to "Christmas in Canaan" a movie which technically is not good and for a movie which starts in the 60s and on the subject of racism is not completely realistic either. But the message it gets across and the feeling it delivers eclipses everything else so whilst an overly sentimental scene featuring Billy Ray Cyrus being overly nice will border on the cheesy the positive underlying message makes all which is wrong with "Christmas in Canaan" seem strangely acceptable.
When Daniel Burton (Billy Ray Cyrus) hears that his son DJ (Zak Ludwig/Jacob Blair) has been fighting with Rodney (Jaishon Fisher/Matt Ward) a young African American kid, he is less than happy about the racist remarks his son made. Looking for a way to nip the trouble in the bud as Rodney gave as good as he got Daniel visits Miss Eunice (Candus Churchill), Rodney's grandmother who has raised him and together come up with a plan to stop these issues between the boys escalating. But the boys are less than happy when first DJ moves in with Miss Eunice and Rodney and then Rodney comes to live with DJ's family especially with there is already so much tension in Canaan in 1964.
To put "Christmas in Canaan" into perspective it is technically not a good movie. We are taken back to the 60s when race was a big issue but that big issue is dealt with in such a simplistic and less than realistic manner that it is simply poor. Then you have the family issues especially as a farmer times are hard, yet Daniel and his family are a happy bunch who take what life throws at them on a chin with no anger just understanding. And to make these scenes of drama worse they are often filled with cheesy lines, cheesy camera work and sadlt some cheesy acting.
I'll be honest I could go on because there is a lot which is wrong with "Christmas in Canaan" but then it has one or two things which balance it out because whilst it's overly simplistic and short on realism it has got a very good message. And whilst the camera work and acting combines to make it overly soft and sentimental it has this heart-warming atmosphere which melts away any cynicism. It means that whilst for those looking for realism will find it almost insulting, those looking for some uplifting feel good entertainment will love the positivity, wholesome-ness, heart-warming atmosphere and message which at times seems to have a touch of "The Waltons" about it.
As for the acting well to be honest at best it is okay but there is a lot of over the top niceness and emotion which frequently feels fake. Now I don't think it's so much the actors fault but more to do with director Neill Fearnley striving to deliver positive atmosphere but it does mean that a lot of it be it Billy Ray Cyrus as the overly nice Daniel or either Matt Ward and Jacob Blair who play the older Rodney and DJ borders on the usubtle and cheesy.
What this all boils down to is that "Christmas in Canaan" is a movie for those who are looking for a heart-warming atmosphere and an uplifting message. If you come to watch it for any other reason than that you will probably end up less than impressed unless it wins you over with its simplistic feel good nature.
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