Holiday Watch: The Christmas Heart

FInal Photo AssetsIn The Christmas Heart, a teenage athlete collapses and his parents are told he needs a heart transplant within about ten days. Meanwhile, a man who is constantly looking for the next big score finds himself in need of some redemption. It’s a race against time in a story about faith.

Usually, I use the second and third paragraphs of these reviews to summarize the movie. By and large, this is a character piece and there isn’t a lot of plot to develop. The first paragraph pretty much covered it. For about the first 2/3 of the movie, it played out as a fairly realistic depiction of people going through extremely critical medical circumstances. It showed how people deal with these sorts of stressful situations in their own individual ways. Unfortunately, as the movie moves past the halfway point, the fantastical elements come more to the fore and the faith message is underscored increasingly boldly.

The movie had every opportunity to become dour. It actually managed to avoid that — which isn’t always easy with a teen on death’s door drama. While it wasn’t light, it was able to keep the viewer fairly interested even though very little was actually going on. And then the faith started kicking in. While a little heavy-handed at times, the message of needing to believe fit with the season. The flip side of that was an insidious subtext that not having faith made a person’s contribution to pulling for the boy suspect — that there was only one right way to cope in this dire situation.

The boy is, of course, saved. It did take the remarkable coincidence of a neighborhood lighting up its luminaries the length of their remarkably straight and obstruction-free street at the most propitious time to allow the single-engine Cessna, piloted by a guy dressed as Santa, which happens to be transporting the needed heart and just happened to be in position to see the lights for a happy ending to occur. From there, events move rapidly — so rapidly that the transplant doesn’t even take place in an operating room.

While not a bad movie, it’s not a must-see, either. It wants to be good, but its inconsistencies make it difficult to know exactly what sort of movie you’re watching. The first half of the film with a dramatic denouement would have been fine, as would the more “out there” version suggested by the Santa pilot ending if it had maintained that tone from the start. As it is, this is a difficult movie to rate because the whole is somewhat less than the sum of its parts.

2.75 of 5 

For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies

Photo: Copyright 2012 Crown Media Holdings, Inc.

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