The Christmas Cottage (2008)
What’s It About: The self-proclaimed “Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade’s humble beginnings are told in this direct-to-video christmas yarn about him returning to his small Californian town and his dealings with his ailing artist mentor (Peter O’Toole) and his single-mother (Marcia Gay Harden) as they struggle to save their small home during the holidays.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- It’s too bad Bob Ross didn’t get his own movie. It could have such great titles like “Behind the ‘fro” and “Happy Little Trees.”
- Man, if only the brothers in this movie were actually Sam and Dean Winchester this movie would rule!
- You got a guy fixing your truck and he can’t tell that one of the issues is it needs oil? Fire that man immediately!
- Poor Peter O’Toole got roped into this somehow.
- Marcia Gay Harden’s Mrs. Kinkade really babies her college-aged boys. She’s weeks away from losing their home and refuses them from helping and getting a job. You need all the help you can get lady.
- Poor Richard Moll got roped into this.
- Poor Chris Elliott got roped into this.
- Poor “the girl who played Tiffany in Independence Day” got roped into this.
- So Kinkade is hired to paint the town mural for a measly $500. But this job would take the two weeks until Christmas and his mom needs over $3000 by then so why is he accepting this job when he’s going to be only making $500 and he will use up all the time he will need?
- My sushi dinner must’ve been drugged or something because it’s been 20 minutes and I don’t hate this movie. So weird.
- Poor Geoffrey Lewis got roped into this.
- There’s actually way more comic relief in this film than I expected. Richard Moll especially is entertaining.
- The deadbeat Mr. Kinkade is summoned by Thomas to return home and when he arrives he gives his sons a box of old porn. And then leaves while throwing cherrybombs out the window of his Caddy. This is in no way the movie I was expecting.
- Poor Ed Asner got roped into this.
- A small town during Christmastime MONTAGE!!!
- Ah, the whole “I have pride” and “I’m not asking for help” even though I’m going to lose everything cliche. I knew it would come sooner or later.
- This movie really has very little to do with Thomas Kinkade. There’s more screen time with the other denizens of his home town and their everyday lives and drama than him and his artwork.
- Now “the deadbeat dad is saving the day and redeeming himself” cliche.
- So all the townsfolk come over to the Kinkade cottage to help fix it up on Christmas morning?!?! And not so they can still live in it but to make it good enough to sell. If only everyone paid Mrs. Kinkade back the money she loaned them than maybe they can save the cottage.
- Wait! Peter O’Toole painted that picture in one night?! And he had what looked like carpal tunnel and dementia. I cry bullshit! And expects his dealer/agent to be able to sell it in time for them to save the house from foreclosing? BAH!
- And of course O’Toole is dead the next day. Totally didn’t see that cliche coming.
Is It Actually Jolly: Let me be perfectly clear: I was expecting this movie to be terrible. However, it is exactly like a Kinkade painting. Nice to look at and has high commercial appeal. It’s not in anyway spectacular but will get you in a mood; in this case a warm, small town Christmastime mood. It has some holiday joy and feels like it’s Christmastime but it’s also full of sap and schmaltz.
Jolliest Moment: Any scene with the late-great legendary Peter O’Toole. He’s 85% of the reason I didn’t hate this movie. He was 76 when he made this movie and still had all the great rage and passion that he brings to any role. He makes even the bad movies tolerable (i.e. Creator, High Spirits). Most of what he said was cheesy, sentimental and trite but he delivered that schmaltz with vigor and aplomb.
Dumbest Moment: Easily the finale. Like the kitsch that is a Kinkade mall painting, the finale is wrapped up nice and happy like a Christmas present with a nice red bow. The townsfolk all visit the Kinkades to help them fix up the house. And in a rare instance of a Christmas miracle or movie editing magic, it’s all done by the end of the day. The only other time I saw a house get fixed that fast was in Revenge of the Nerds! And Peter O’Toole’s character who struggled with dementia, carpal tunnel and artists’ block starts and finishes a painting in one night and is able to save the house with the earnings. The whole movie up until this finale was in the realm of possibility—sappy and sentimental with flourishes of whimsy and humor but believable at least.
Overall: Kinkade is a very controversial artist to say the least. Either you love him or you hate him. As a professional artist myself, I see how he can polarize people. The title of “Painter of Light” says pretty much everything you need to know—he took his fame and ran with it as far as it could go. And I don’t blame him one bit really; the painters art game is no picnic and for him to have a painting mass produced to be in 1 of 20 American homes is no small feat. But it also says something to have stores with an animatronic likeness of yourself in a mall. If only Andy Warhol were alive to see Kinkade’s popularity, I would love to hear his opinion on the matter. Part of me thinks Andy would love it. But anyway, the movie really didn’t have that much Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Light in it. After all this was before he found his standard style of painting and more to do with his family and their struggles in the late 1970s. This helped considerably as it was more relatable and felt more like a common Christmas miracle movie in which the goodwill and Christmas spirit of all men and women help each other. Considering his ego and pomposity I half expected Kinkade to be more of a hero in this movie; discover his newfound “light” style while falling in love and solving other peoples’ problems. Kinkade and Emmet Otter didn’t really have much differences in their respective Christmas tales. Both had struggles at home, especially with money but used their talents and love of family to overcome their conflicts.
However, while I didn’t hate this movie in the least, it is not a great movie either. It’s a step up from those terrible ABC Family Christmas movies but still not close to the echelon of other Christmas classics either. If you’re looking for a capable new Christmas movie to see this year I wouldn’t stop you or judge you from seeing The Christmas Cottage. Call me crazy or full of yule-tide merriment but I will give Mr. Kinkade a pass on this one.
Score: 5 old porn mags from your old man (out of 10)