It’s 12:17 am
I know what you’re thinking……haven’t the cheetah and I already reviewed “The Perfect Gift”? Well,yeah…..but NOT this version of “The Perfect Gift”. This is a totally different film,this is a full length feature from our friends at Kelly’s Filmworks. I have decided we are going to review the rest of the titles in the film collection we picked up a while back.
Been trying really hard to hunt for some more gentler films as of late but it has been hard,the pickings are a little slim right now as it just seems I’m just seeing a lot of action and horror titles. I do have hopes this will change as I picked up “La La Land”,”Jackie” and a seriously underrated and great movie called “Little Children” at the library for a 1.00 apiece. But for now….
The film starts with festive Christmas music and people bustling about. We see people shopping and in some cases carrying gifts. Soon the zooms in on one particular set of feet and they enter a highrise. The feet walk into a elevator and soon we meet Max ( Christina Fougnie) as she barges into her mother’s office and sits down instantly complaining about her new school,she has no friends,she misses her horse and her birthday,which is on Christmas is also making her cranky. Stacy,Max’s mom,explains why she is at the new school..the father had done some shadiness and the family assets have been frozen.
Max and Stacy (Amy Hess) are now living in a small apartment but Max doesn’t feel it should impact her life. She gives her mom a five page booklet of potential gifts which just exhausts Stacy.
Stacy is also the leader of the “Winter Gala” office party at her firm and is in charge of everything,her assistant is very unhappy that Christmas is being pushed under in exchange for the “Winter Gala”. Stacy agrees but her hands are tied….
Meanwhile at a small church a young pastor named Tony(Matt Wallace) is trying to build a nativity but is he is not a craftsman in the slightest as he bangs his thumb yet again. A voice asks Tony if he needs a hand. The pastor looks up to a kindly face looking down at him. While he wants very much to accept the help,he says he has under control. The stranger smiles and moves on,he says the nails will go smoother if they are wet.
Tony proceeds to actually lick the nail,as he turns to re-start the project,the lead pastor,Father Black (Tom Luce) is staring at him,he is a no nonsense kind of pastor. He gives Tony even more tasks to do,the church can’t afford a staff and the pastors are the only ones to effect repairs.
We then discover that Tony lives across the hall from Stacy and Max,as he comes home,so does Stacy who asks if Max can come to the church so Tony can bring her home,Stacy’s work schedule has her swamped. Tony says “Not a problem”.
Inside Stacy and Max’s apartment,Max has decorated it up really nicely…for her birthday.
Max is still trying to live as nothing is different as she wants a expensive birthday cake and her mom again trying to tell her that their old is on hold. She tells Max that Tony will be bringing her home.
The next day Tony is surprised to see the drifter is in front of the church laying the framework for the nativity. Tony asks the man want is he doing and the drifter explains that Tony has left his tools outside and he decided to help. Tony is at first concerned but the drifter puts him at ease,encouraging Tony to “sit and finish your coffee”.
Max is at school and her teacher is asking the class what Christmas means to them…others say many traditional things but Max says “retail spike”. The teacher assigns her students to do a 500 word essay on what Christmas means,she then holds Max back and says her grades are dropping and she is in danger of flunking the class,she urges Max to write a good paper…
Tony and the drifter are sitting on the steps of the church as Tony tries to find out more about the man who is helping him. He gets vague answers but does learn that the drifter’s name is Jess (Jefferson Moore) and he is just passing through.
Father Black calls Tony into his office and wants to know the story behind the stranger.
He isn’t friendly towards Jess and berates Tony for his hands on ministry. The two men don’t see eye to eye on how things are done. Black relents on letting Jess stay in the church’s basement while he builds the nativity scene.
Max comes by the church and soon meets Jess and she isn’t friendly either. Jess tries to make small talk but is spurned.
As Max and Tony get ready to drive home,they speculate where Jess came from and what he does for a living.
When Stacy hears about Max’s grades,it forces the young girl to reach out to Jess to help her with her report,it seems Jess knows Christmas inside and out. During the course of building the nativity,Jess does help learn was Christmas really means and where many of it’s symbols come from.
After an attempt of bake a cake go sideways and and Jess helping a desperate man with a sick child,the nativity is soon built. But when a local ACLU type of group led by Blaine Pollett (Mark Smeby) demands it be taken down….Christmas is once again threatened.
What will the outcome be? Will Stacy’s plan to do a radical Christmas office party work? Will Father Black and Tony finally learn to work together? And what grade will Max get on her essay?
Okay,I’m going to say it…..this movie rocked. All the painstakingly hard work that Kelly and Jefferson Moore and their loyal troupe of actors have learned from the first two “Perfect Stranger” films and TV series have paid off here. “The Perfect Gift” is a beautiful and uplifting movie. It honors God and what the Christmas spirit really is all about. Written and directed by Jefferson Moore,he isn’t afraid to show both conflict within a church where a lead shepherd has lost sight of why he is there. Or letting us watch the young assistant minister Tony finally finding his voice.
Moore also doesn’t demonize the ACLU type group that is demanding that nativity be taken down. He understands why certain people feel the way they do. The script is strong and has a real sense of joy and happiness in it without feeling gooey and cliched.
The camera work of Gary Leo Miller and Tim Antkowiak is also strong and I was impressed by the skill they showed in some very tight spots,the rooms in the apartment and church looked to be extremely small but the film angles looked great.
This is also a very well acted film as well…every character is fleshed out and given ample time to shine on screen. Tom Luce as Father Black,has become a pretty good “heavy” in the Kelly Filmwork’s productions. Matt Wallace and Amy Hess are both great as Tony and Stacy,both want what is best for the people they love and but are in danger of being run down,watching them as they each confront their problems is inspiring and provides a great moment of comic relief by Paul Kerr who plays Stacy’s boss.
But the brightest turn is by Christina Fougnie as Max. She goes from being a spoiled child with blinders on to becoming a young lady who is figuring out there is a lot of world out there and it doesn’t revolve around her. The change doesn’t happen overnight but by the end,you can see a lot of positive changes. Fougnie shows some serious acting promise and one wonders if not only her but the rest of the Kelly’s Filmwork’s crew will decide to move forward with their careers or stay close to home to make small Christian films with plenty of heart and soul.
“The Perfect Gift” features a BTS peek at the making of,the film’s trailer and a beautiful song that I’m going to share as a bonus. It has a run time of 92 minutes and I give this movie two thumbs up,its the film from Kelly’s Filmworks by far.
Drop a comment,we would love to hear from you. We’ll be back soon with another review from Kelly’s Filmworks.