Christmas in July

I was happy to return to the movie theater after so many months apart. It was like returning to an old friend. I went to see the Valley’s own, Bret Kofford movie, Christmas in July. I would encourage you to see the film. You may disagree with some of his views, but he is a homeboy and deserves some love. He wrote the screen play, and it was directed by Myles Matsuno. It has won some awards and many viewers will enjoy it.

If you like the Hallmark movie genre, this movie will please you. It is very family oriented, and it is about a family hurt by losses, and the ongoing pain of a grandparent suffering from the debilitating disease of Alzheimer’s. The movie focuses on the efforts of a grandson who works hard to organize a Christmas experience for his terminal grandma, because Christmas was always her favorite time of year. Her days are numbered so the celebration had to happen during July. I really like the idea of personal sacrifice, especially for someone, who in many ways, is unworthy. Christ in the real world did that for us. He sacrificed his life to save others. Sacrifice should happen in all months, not just the traditional season of giving and gifting in December.

I also appreciated that one of the themes, which is also “Hallmarkian,” was characters coping with grief. Pain and suffering can bring out the best or the worst in people. As Jesus comes closer to return, people will continue behaving badly. Loss comes to all families, and many struggle managing it with grace and love. That was the case with one of the adult children. She was a character developed to easily hate on. She was a selfish, non-sacrificial sister to our hero brother, and she was also scheduled be married in July. Every line from her lips made you want to slap her. Movies often have an antagonist, and she was truly annoying, although the writing made her a little extreme. Kudos to the make-up people for making her look like the shrew that she really was!

Life is a team game. I also appreciated that the grandson needed help to pull off his July gift of love and many, except the sister, stepped up. Healthy families get involved and do what they can to help, especially the family, or the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and those in need along life’s hurting highway. Friends and neighbors can get in the game, but we need to put aside the pride and ask them for help. The grandson was a humble, likeable dude. 

Due to lack of space, I need to get on with a few concerns about the movie. I am going to encourage a local gerontologist, Dr. Sampatt, to see the movie. One thing that bothered me about the movie was some misinformation about Alzheimer’s. It is a progressive disease and people get worse. In the movie, grandma gets better and is more lucid and oriented as time passes. This made it a feel-good Hollywood fantasy. Also, the sister shrew was a conservative Christian. This was some more of Kofford’s anti-Christian bias. The sister was both a reborn Christian and in recovery, but those factors were missing in her words and deeds.

The patriarch of the family, her father, and the daughter’s wimpy fiancé were both ministers and were very lukewarm in their personas. Even when the pastor, head of the family, prayed during a hospital crisis, it was silent, not out loud. The negativity of Christianity was loud, and its love was silent. The message was clear. It was obvious in the waiting room scene and throughout the film: If you are a Christian, be quiet!

The film was predictable, so I don’t want to spoil it. I love Hallmark films because they often provoke my tears which are an expression of my humanity, my grief, and my sensitivity to the grief of others. The movie didn’t move me. It was a nice story and within the first minutes the primary love relationship was predictable, but I felt neither joy nor sadness with the ebbs and flows of the flick. 

If you see the film and want to discuss it, I will buy the coffee, but go buy a ticket. We need to support our neighbors and our local businesses.

Jim Shinn is a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association leading a caregiver support group the first Wednesday of the month. He also facilitates the Son-Shine/Sunset Support Group, for those who have experienced the loss of a child of any age.

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