Dec 2, 2014

Review: The Christmas Shoes (2002)

Oh boy, I just knew it wasn't going to be long before I was stuck watching a corny Christmas TV movie. It just had to be a movie based off one of the worst Christmas songs ever made didn't it? If you can believe it, the song The Christmas Shoes which was released in 2000 inspired a book in 2001, followed by this movie a year later. What you got to admit though is that it's quite the production from just one dumb song. I'd probably do the same thing if I could if I wrote a bad song that became popular.

I never actually heard this song by Christian group NewSong before, but it's very featured in a pivotal scene in The Christmas Shoes. You won't need to hear it more than once though because once is more than enough. That's just me anyway. That's because there seem to be a lot of vocal fans of the song as well as the movie even. I don't really understand it myself, but everyone is entitled to their opinions I guess.


Genre: drama
Directed by: Andy Wolk
Produced by: Michael Mahoney, Craig Anderson, Beth Grossbard
Written by: Wesley Bishop
Music by: Lawrence Shragge
Running time: 100 minutes
Production company: Beth Grossbard Productions, Craig Anderson Productions, Nova Scotia Film Industry Tax Credit
Distributed by: Columbia Broadcasting System, True Entertainment
Country: United States, Canada
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Rob Lowe, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Max Morrow, Maria del Mar, Hugh Thompson, Dorian Harewood, Shirley Douglas, Amber Marshall, Rhonda McLean, Jeremy Akerman, John Maclaren, Brian Heighton, Geoff Herod, Bill Carr, John Dunsworth, Brian Jamieson



Robert Layton (Rob Lowe) is a lawyer working on a big case that keeps him in the office late. This causes him to have little time to spend with his unhappy wife Kate (Maria del Mar) or his talented daughter Lily (Amber Marshall). Robert's mother (Shirley Douglas) grows more concerned about her son's situation, but there's not much she can do. Kate becomes friends with Maggie Andrews who's in charge of the music program at Lily's school. With a loving husband (Hugh Thompson) and a young son (Max Morrow), her time unfortunately is running out due to a life-threatening condition.


The Christmas Shoes actually opens to a present day scene on Christmas morning in a cemetery. Rob Lowe's character is visiting his mother's grave because she loved Christmas. With some excellent cheesy dialogue, we're brought back in time to something that changed Robert Layton's life to make him the man he is today.

Rob Lowe doesn't seem too concerned about trying too hard with the dialogue he's been given. I don't really blame him either because what's the point anyway? The Christmas Shoes always stays in the cheesy/manipulative category and I don't think it wants to be anywhere else. No other actor is able to dig this movie out of its grave, so take care to control your eye-rolling. You don't want to strain yourself after all.

One of the best examples of this is how drama is handled. Characters will be talking normally before all of a sudden, Lawrence Shragge's score kicks it into overdrive. It's like a dam being opened all of a sudden. There are also lots of scenes that are meant to be inspirational and touching, but nothing that ever feels real. This is simply manufactured TV cheese and boy does it reek.

The story is also predictably thin. What do you expect though when you're adapting a song into a movie anyway? One of the major plot points is about Maggie Andrews having a very fond memory regarding some dancing shoes she had when she was a kid. These are so important to her that she's brought to tears in front of a classroom. As a viewer I was never made to care about these shoes or if Maggie would ever get them. (Spoilers) It was only a means to an end to ensure that scene with Maggie's son trying to buy those shoes, but not having enough money would happen. (End Spoilers)

I also have to point out how ridiculous the sudden transformation of Robert Layton is. He's a pretty regular guy who has some workaholic tendencies. He then turns into a money grubbing workaholic who obsesses over a new house he wants to make an offer for. He even wants to force his wife to get a high-paying job so that they can afford it. Only then do we learn that this has somehow been an ongoing problem. I don't buy it. He basically just becomes a character to show what "real Christmas spirit" is down your throat.

The Christmas Shoes was filmed in Nova Scotia, so the one positive thing I can say about it is the fact that it features two Canadian actors I know in Jeremy Akerman and John Dunsworth. I know them from the Canadian TV series Trailer Park Boys where Dunsworth is a pretty major character. As Doctor Julian, he actually does a good job in his role and doesn't end up looking like a fool. I can't really verify if his medical babble was accurate, but he's a theater trained actor and it shows. I just got a real kick out of seeing him in a movie like this because trust me, TPB is as crude as it is funny.

What I'll say is that The Christmas Shoes is not the cheesiest nor most manipulative Christmas movie I've ever seen. It does however feature awful and unnatural sounding dialogue as well as TV movie production issues like choppiness and a fake cliffhanger. The acting is bad across the board if you don't include my Canadian buddies and the main song is horrifically, sabotage-my-own speakers bad. It's the kind of song that would probably put me in a rage if I heard it in a store this month. Let's hope for everyone around me that I don't.



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