Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Christmas Dance Review: A Holiday Cookie Cutter Movie

Katherine Kelly Lang	...	Mary Richard Karn	Richard Karn	...	Sherman Briana White	Briana White	...	Kate Kristen Vaganos	Kristen Vaganos	...	Sarah Master P	Master P	...	Brother Moore Scott Bailey	Scott Bailey	...	Mr. Davenport Jeff Willy	Jeff Willy	...	Restaurant Patron Symonne Harrison	Symonne Harrison	...	Taylor Carson Nicely	Carson Nicely	...	Jason Emilee Bickert	Emilee Bickert	...	Parent Jessica Richards	Jessica Richards	...	Karen Josh Hooks	Josh Hooks	...	Brother Ron (as Joshua Hooks) Sinorice Moss	Sinorice Moss	...	Dr. Leo McCoy Melissa Jo Bailey	Melissa Jo Bailey	...	Sister Grace Nikki Saryan	Nikki Saryan	...	Restaurant Patron (as Veronica Saryan) Cassady Jane Lorentzen	Cassady Jane Lorentzen	...	Young Kate Brady Amaya	Brady Amaya	...	Young Sherman Jr. Thalia Oliver	Thalia Oliver	...	Play Ensemble

Release date: July 23, 2021
Running time: 100 minutes
Written and Directed By: Michael Arcell
Starring: Kristen Vaganos, Carson Nicely, Scott Bailey, Briana White, Katherine Kelly Lang, Master P, and Richard Karn

Traumatized by her past Christmas is not at the top of Sarah’s list this time of year. However, waltzing through life’s unexpected emergencies, she is taught the Christmas dance.

Linda Cushma	...	Caroler Miles Faber	Miles Faber	...	Sherman Jr. Noah Nelson	Noah Nelson	...	Young Jason Evan Richards	Evan Richards	...	Office Worker Leni Harper	Leni Harper	...	Church Member Kel King	Kel King	...	Church Member Emily Reed	Emily Reed	...	Church Member Angel Contreras	Angel Contreras	...	Play Ensemble Spencer Langston	Spencer Langston	...	Caroler, Church Member DeeDee Michaels	DeeDee Michaels	...	Mrs. Baxter Stranton Aiono	Stranton Aiono	...	Church member / Play Attendee Bill Witter Sr.	Bill Witter Sr.	...	Retirement Home Visitor Bobby Phillips	Bobby Phillips	...	Church Member Ben Orf	Ben Orf	...	Church Member Kaj Marfil	Kaj Marfil	...	Chorus Myra Dent	Myra Dent	...	Hospital Visitor Alvin Knight Sr.	Alvin Knight Sr.	...	Retirement Home Visitor Michael Arcell	Michael Arcell	...	Chad
The Christmas Dance is a by the numbers Christmas movie.  If you would list holiday movie tropes, the Christmas Dance would be it.  It actually has a big city girl coming home to her hometown for Christmas and meeting the down to earth childhood friend who is now hot and teaches her the meaning of Christmas.  Like seriously, if you just played Christmas movies mad libs, this would be the movie you got.  The tropes are serious, the Christmas spirit is plentiful, and the mentions of family are enough to make Vin Diesel happy.

But through all of this, you do get an enjoyable Christmas movie for those that are looking for it.  What you also get is a movie that is unabashedly religious, with prominent mentions of the church and of religion, and additional prayer scenes.  But what I loved most about this aspect of it is that it felt genuine, and the messages from the movie actually felt like true Christian messages and not something that was bolted in for the film.  The message of taking care of your community and of helping others was welcome, as was a frank discussion about whether we should be judging people that took those handouts.  It was great to see and I really appreciated this aspect of the film.

But outside of this interesting religious message, The Christmas Dance is a by the numbers Christmas movie.  And on top of that, it has some hallmarks of a budget Hallmark movie. The effects are noticeably absent during some pivotal scenes, with timed cuts to make sure that what happens is implied.  And despite the emphasis on Sarah's past trauma, this really doesn't seem like something that should be affecting her.  Sure it gives her an excuse for why she never came back, but it also feels like something that is completely minor in the grand scheme of things.  And maybe that's the point but I feel like this film could have used a few more retakes on the story.

The Christmas Dance is an unabashedly Christian Christmas movie with a wonderful message about taking care of your community, but it has a holiday cookie cutter story and some inconsistent performances along the way.

Pass on it.

Michael Arcell	...	producer (produced by) Kristi Kilday	...	producer Percy Miller	...	producer Romeo Miller	...	executive producer Kevin J Nelson	...	producer (produced by)
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The Christmas Dance is available digitally and on demand on July 23, 2021.  

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