Christmas on Division Street (1991)
Cronyn's Savage Christmas
Unimpressed by having to move home Trevor Atwood (Fred Savage - When You Remember Me) doesn't want to be in Philadelphia especially when he finds himself falling foul of school bully Derek (Casey Ellison). But whilst at the city library Trevor meets Cleveland Meriwether (Hume Cronyn - Cocoon: The Return) a quirky old man who has an amazing knowledge of American history and is happy to share that knowledge with him. Despite discovering that Cleveland is homeless Trevor forms a bond with the old man whose kindness reminds him of his own grandfather and Cleveland warms to the young teen. With Christmas coming and a storm due to hit Division Street where Cleveland lives Trevor feels he must do something to help his friend and the other homeless people who live there.
Charm, it is just a 5 letter word but it is a 5 letter word which can make the difference between a sappy Christmas movie and a touching Christmas movie. Charm is exactly what "Christmas on Division Street" has, oodles of charm which brings this touching story of friendship to life. It also has two talented actors, one in Fred Savage still learning his trade and the other in Hume Cronyn a seasoned veteran who works brilliantly with Savage, bringing the warmth of "Christmas on Division Street" to life.
Now "Christmas on Division Street" is in fact a simple movie and not that original as it focuses on a friendship between a young boy and an older homeless man. What we watch is how young Trevor grows fond of Cleveland and sees past his dishevelled appearance as well as his home being a cardboard box to see a kind and wise old man. But we see how initially he sees Cleveland as a bum and only through spending time with him as he shows him around and the ways of the homeless that the old man fills a hole in his life left when his grandfather passed away a few months earlier. And we see how Trevor's attitude completely changes as he tries to help his friend and the various other homeless people Cleveland introduces him to.
But the strength of "Christmas on Division Street" is that it opens the audience's eyes to the plight of those who are homeless. We see various aspects from how people don't like them in their sight as in scenes in the library where Cleveland frequently finds himself getting disparaging looks to the dangers of living on the streets when we see the coroner pulling a dead body out of Division Street. It really opens your eyes to the plight of the homeless from old men to young women with families who have fallen on hard times and can't climb out of the hole they are in.
What this all boils down to is that "Christmas on Division Street" is two things; firstly a charming movie about the friendship which forms between a boy and an old homeless man and then it is an eye opening look at the plight of the homeless, their struggles and the way they are treated.
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