Released on DVD October 1, So This Is Christmas is not a typical feel-good family Christmas film. While it does offer some strong life lessons and even life-affirming moments, the film has a dark mood as its troubled characters try to find their way in the modern world.
The film centers on the blended family of Bill (Eric Roberts) and Sharon (Vivica A. Fox). Bill’s teenage daughter Ashley (Lexi Ainsworth, General Hospital) has been trying to grow up way too fast, hanging out late and drinking, with her friend Nicki (Cassidee Vandalia). Her step-brother Jason (Titus Makin Jr., Glee) has problems of his own, as his need for drugs keeps putting him in more and more dangerous situations, while his oblivious mom Sharon seems constantly preoccupied with her freelance business and bored with her life with Bill.
Amid all of this drama arrives Mac (Bryan Massey), an itinerant handyman and potential life coach. He soon is not just completing odd jobs around the family’s house, but encouraging Ashley to help stage a local Christmas play for underprivileged children. Ashley may not just find purpose by writing the script and volunteering to do the play, but romance as well, when she meets nice guy Jonathan (Justinh Avery). Ashley begins to follow Mac’s lead by enlisting other volunteers — her father to play music at the performance, her brother’s girlfriend Angelina (Danielle Vega) to help make costumes, and even her resistant step-mother to sing — but can she get tough cookie Nicki to join in too? Roberts and Fox actually duet on the modern Christmas song “Mary, Did You Know?”
The DVD has scene selection and a few other movie previews, but no other extras. Director Richard Foster shot the widescreen format 115 minute film in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The film looks good, with sharp, crisp colors, on a large-scale, high-definition television screen.
Word to the wise: although the film is Christian- and redemption-themed, this is not a holiday family film to watch with young children, as there are many scenes depicting drug use and violence. But So This Is Christmas is a thoughtful independent film about hard choices that many older teens and adults may find rewarding.