“The Christmas Shoes” An Atrocity, a Sloppy Film, a Classic

"That Hunk of a man, Rob Lowe, in this atrocity of a film." ~Oliver Antone

Oliver Antone, Editor

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In 2002, Andy Wolk created a film that lives in the hearts of many and spanned multiple spin-offs afterwards. Wolk directed a film that became an instant Christmas classic, but also one of the worst movies of all time. This film is none other than the film “The Christmas Shoes.”

 

“The Christmas Shoes” blessed the world on Dec. 1, 2002 with its release on CBS. Rob Lowe stars as Robert Layton, an over-worked lawyer with no time for his family or Christmas. Joining him is Kimberly Williams as Mrs. Andrews, Hugh Thompson as her husband, Maria Del Mar as Robert’s daughter Kate, and Max Morrow as the little rat with an knack for sneaking away from his parents to buy a stinking pair of shoes. Lowe begins to learn the meaning of family through this poor stretched-out version of a song on the radio, but the film has its redeeming factors.

 

“The Christmas Shoes” focuses on the Layton and Andrews families, whose lives cross over way too much for the audience to be comfortable. Robert Layton is an over-worked lawyer trying to save his marriage with his wife Ellen (Shirley Douglas), while at the same time trying to save perhaps the biggest case of his career. Meanwhile, his daughter Kate has become a choir star with her music teacher Mrs. Maggie Andrews. When Maggie’s heart disease gets too much, Ellen decides to take over her class while she gets better. However, when a failed heart transplant makes it evident that Maggie isn’t going to make it, Ellen takes over the class full time while Maggie’s son Nathan worries for his mother. When Nathan overhears that his parents met in a dance class, he sets out to find his mother a pair of dancing shoes. At the same time, Robert is saving his case but failing at his marriage. Nathan implores the help of his teacher Dalton (Dorian Harewood) and they set out to find the cash for the Christmas Shoes before time runs out.

 

My cinematic experience with the film is rather bipolar. While the plot was very good, there were too many factors weighing this movie down. Firstly, they re-used the same music track the entire film. The only variety in music was when “The Christmas Shoes” plays at the end of the film. Plus, their two lives cross over far too much to make it reasonable that Robert and Nathan only cross paths at the end of the movie. On top of this, the writing was just plain bad as every line feels forced in some way shape or form to advance the plot. While critics say dead scenes, or a scene in which nothing advances the plot, are unnecessary in films; “The Christmas Shoes” needed something heavily just to take the relief off. In fact there really is only one form of relief comes with the death of Robert’s mother, and the only reason it was put in there was to advance the plot. Still, the casting and plot were really good, and even though I hate to admit it; I did get the feels towards the end of the film. In that moment, it was well written enough to look past the bad of the film and actually get caught up in the emotion.

 

In terms of technique it was… lacking. There are multiple continuity errors to say the least including years of cars for a film that takes place in the 80s, multiple cuts in which Robert is not in the same position as before, and timing not aligning. On top of this, color correcting was ok, but really there wasn’t much to be done at the same time. In terms of music, as stated earlier, they used the same song constantly to the point that it was irritating. Lighting was done really well, in fact it was one of the best cinematic aspects of the film, as well as the great casting, and decent plot. Still, the poor cinematic parts of the film take away from these redeeming qualities and make it much harder to stomach.

 

In the end, “The Christmas Shoes” is a film with a lot of heart, and it has good reason to have it. For a Christmas film it qualifies as very depressing, but has a positive outcome. Lowe’s portrayal of Robert Layton was spot on, plus Nate’s portrayal really adds to the aspect of this film. Its an emotional journey, it’s a frustrating movie, and it can be nothing less than a Christmas classic. While there are many things wrong with this film, I think I could find myself watching it again next year.  

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