Title: Christmas for a Dollar
Year of Release: 2013
Available On: Amazon Prime (as of 6/2018)
Rating: 1.5 out of five Jingle Bells
A couple of things about this movie:
- low budget, thus no costuming or accurate sets so the idea that it’s happening during the Great Depression is much more of an idea than any kind of believable portrayal;
- much as I don’t want to malign children, these particular children aren’t the best actors – in fact, they’re really bad;
- dialogue is not of the period, nor is it well-written even if you ignore the historical inaccuracies;
- plot is forgettable / kind of hard to follow; and
- there’s a beautiful horse!
The family does not have enough money to get gifts for everyone, so father William comes up with a plan for a white elephant-style gift exchange. There’s a small bit of money to go towards each gift, but he also encourages creativity. There’s a nasty, rich neighbor (owner of aforementioned horse), as well as a hard-scrabble youngest son with a physical disability. One kid wants to get a job and help the family – another dreams about going to college despite their financial difficulties. It’s as if all of the elements of all the Christmas movies were put into a cocktail shaker, then shaken up, and tossed out onto this script. The movie really tries to do too much plot-wise, to the point where it leaves “fanciful” and enters into “unrealistic.” Each kid has their own plot points and it gets confusing to follow. No one story is fully fleshed out as a result and relationships feel shallow. And I know, I know, it’s a holiday movie, not a documentary, but even I have a threshold for what disbelief can be suspended. I’d skip this one.