A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas isn't a politically motivated indictment of the secular humanist movement to remove religious Christmas symbols from public spaces or the "war on Christmas." It's actually a response to Christians who think Santa, lights and trees, parties, and expensive presents dilute the true meaning of the season. Cameron takes those Christians to task by arguing that there's a way to see widely celebrated Christmas customs as symbolic of not only Jesus' birth but of salvation and more. Like most faith-based films, Saving Christmas seems directed specifically to evangelical Christian audiences. Those who see it should know that there's some minor violence in historical recreations of St. Nicholas attacking a heretic and of King Herod's soldiers rounding up babies.
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What's the story?
KIRK CAMERON'S SAVING CHRISTMAS opens with a prologue of the actor (as himself) explaining how much he loves everything about the Christmas season, from the trees and decorations to the hot cocoa and carols. He bemoans how critics of Christmas range from the naysayers who don't believe that religious holidays should co-opt all public life to fellow Christians who think that commercial aspects and yuletide cheer take away from the true "reason for the season." Next thing we know, Cameron is attending his sister's (played by real-life sister Bridgette) Christmas party, where he's thrilled to be part of the family's festivities -- until she reveals that her husband (Darren Doane) just isn't into Christmas. This is unacceptable to Cameron, so he follows his Grinch of a brother-in-law, who's sitting in a parked car, and proceeds to explain to him why trees, Santa, decorations, and gifts aren't secular customs but actually symbolic of Jesus' birth, grace, and more.
Is it any good?
Yes, faith-based films have religious themes, but they should also have a plot, actors, dialogue, and a story; by that measure, Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas can barely be considered a movie. There's no real plot; almost the entire movie boils down to one long conversation in which Cameron decides to "take back" Christmas traditions from their historical context and imbue them with more strictly religious symbolism. For example, Santa Claus is based on St. Nicholas, and he kicked heretic butt during the Council of Nicaea, even if it wasn't "politically correct" for him to do so. Or, the Christmas tree can be a reminder of the crucifixion -- the tree on which Jesus willingly gave his life. And a pile of wrapped presents under a Christmas tree can remind Christian shoppers of the skyline for the New Jerusalem, where believers will spend an eternity with God.
The most surprising thing about this movie is that Cameron isn't taking on or debating the secular humanists who believe that, as a religious holiday, Christmas shouldn't be thrust upon them during the post-Halloween, pre-New Year time period. Instead, Cameron hopes to gently correct other believers into understanding that, as he sees it, God wants them to spend lavishly on one another, party hard, and go full Pinterest-mode on decorations every Christmas. In other words, he's saying there's nothing wrong with a big, fat, material celebration of the holiday, and those within the faith community who'd rather focus on charity and austerity are just party-pooping curmudgeons who are missing the point entirely. Why anyone would pay to hear Cameron preach about why Christmas should be full of presents, hot cocoa, and Santa photos is indeed a Christmas miracle.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Saving Christmas' view on the holiday. Do you agree that many seemingly secular traditions can have a religious component? Are you surprised that this movie debates curmudgeonly Christians rather than atheists?
Discuss your own views on Christmas and the holidays. Talk to your kids about the traditions behind how you celebrate.
The movie references the "war on Christmas" and the misguidedness of "political correctness." Are those political statements? If so, do you agree or disagree with them, and why?
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