*Mild spoilers follow*
“So This is Christmas,” which releases to DVD on Oct. 1, is somewhat of a misleading film. One may think that it would be suitable for families, since it tries to bring about the message that it’s the best thing you have. And it’s described as being about a troubled teen who tries to get on the right track. But the film is about two troubled teens, a work-obsessed mother, and a father who wants to help, but no one will listen. This all just feels like one overlong, overwrought after school special.
Vivica A. Fox plays the clueless stepmother, Sharon, who always tries to find a way to argue with Ashley (Lexi Ainsworth) and believes her son, Jason (Titus Makin Jr.), is the best thing in the world. The problem is, she doesn’t have a whole lot of time to hang out with Jason, and he’s hiding things. And whenever Sharon’s husband, Bill (Eric Roberts), tries to question him, she stops him from possibly taking it to places about which she doesn’t want to hear. And whenever Jason keeps asking for money, she just hands it to him and never seems to figure out that he’s been lying about what he plans on doing with the cash she gives him.
But the film’s main focus is on Ashley, a partying teenager who meets a handyman named Mac (Bryan Massey). He changes her life around by having her volunteer for a Christmas play for underprivileged children. Even though it’s ruined her relationship with her best friend, Nicole (Cassidee Vandalia), she has found a possible love interest in Jonathan (Justinh Avery), and she feels better about herself.
Massey and Ainsworth do share a few moments of good chemistry, and most of the rest of the cast give decent performances. But there are some characters that come and go, and we never get too emotionally attached to them – even when the film really calls for it toward the baffling ending.
“So This is Christmas” does become a little dark, when Jason starts hanging out with gang members and gets addicted to drugs. The tone is consistently shifting from dark to cheery, and it’s understandable that the film wants to get as real as it possibly could. But it’s hampered by so many cliches about getting on the right path; finding God and asking him what to do; and how you should just listen to the people who are trying to help you. Haven’t we seen enough of those?