The Christmas Cottage

2008-12-12 11:35
The Christmas Cottage
What it's about:

Based on the life of influential artist Thomas Kinkade (Jared Padalecki), The Christmas Cottage tells the story of his humble beginnings and the inspiration behind his most famous painting, for which the movie has been named. Returning home for Christmas one year he finds that his family is in danger of losing their home. So, to earn money he paints a wall mural of the town. This depicts the local folk who enter his life, especially veteran artist Glen Wessler (Peter O’Toole), with whom he forms a close bond.

What we thought of it:

It’s all smiles and cupcakes amongst the simple town folk who live in a little place called Placerville (I kid you not), California. They enjoy wholesome activities like taking part in the annual nativity play and being the quintessential "white picket fence" kind of American community. This is all good and well, but in a big screen movie, comes across as one-dimensional and, well, dull.

Anyone looking for an in-depth character study or compelling storyline will be left dissatisfied. Perhaps the creativity of the writing was limited by having to stick to 'the facts' of the artist's life, as Kinkade himself produced the film. The events portrayed seem a bit too perfect: the town is so picturesque and the people are just so darn delightful that you feel like you're being fed an idealised world, rather than the real thing.

Veteran actor Peter O’Toole plays Kinkade's mentor Glen Wessler with dependable charm and grace. There is wisdom and heart behind those rheumy eyes and, at 76, he is still a commanding performer. But the weak script doesn't do his performance any favours and his scenes with Padalecki are laboured and overly sentimental.

The town mural that Kinkade paints throughout the movie works well as a strong symbol for the message of the movie - 'Love thy neighbour'. As characters enter the town, so too do they enter the painting. The growing sense of family and community is an ever-reliable staple of the Christmas story, and it's in this regard that The Christmas Cottage is at its most heartwarming.

If the Hallmark channel is your thing, then this movie will definitely resonate with you. It’s good, clean Christmas fun to enjoy with the kids. But for many, like me, who like our Christmas fare served with a dash of originality, a return to the more sinister and mischievous hijinks of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas may seem like a more attractive option.

- Jessica Hewson

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The Christmas Cottage is a sweet and sentimental tale that follows the small-town American Christmas formula to a 'T'. It's cute and so darn charming, but works better as a made-for-TV holiday movie.

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