I came home from a Christmas break away to see family that did not turn out the very best. I had prepared for myself the movie of this discussion, Good Luck Charlie: It's Christmas!, for when I got back. I did not know if I would necessarily be in the mood for it, possibly be all Christmased out. Instead, the opposite happened. I came home desiring to watch this movie very much, so that I could actually experience some of that Christmas cheer that has become so synonymous in my head with the holiday. I am familiar with the television show that this movie is a special of, and though I have never been a frequent watcher of it, on an occasion it has happened to show up on the television screen and I have been a little bit charmed. Good Luck Charlie is not as good as some of the classic shows that have sadly faded into memory, but there are other family channel programs that are far worse than what this one has had to offer, so I at least thank the show for that.
Maybe if I could turn off the critical part of my brain I would have been able to enjoy this movie more. It did not instill in me feelings of merriment and joy, the kind that I was hoping for, or even gentle feelings of nostalgia from the program that has now been a couple years deceased. I don't mean to be a Scrooge, or even a Grinch, but the movie didn't work for me. I could pop in a couple of the Christmas movies that in the past have affected me a great deal, but I seem to have lost the joy of watching film that I once used to have, in the pure sense of the word. I am no longer as enraptured as I used to be. I could say it was this year that caused it, but it has been a gradual slope down since maybe 2011 or 2012. I am sorry to be a downer this holiday season, but I haven't been given much cheer to actually be feeling any of it.
I feel like I have started this drum roll question before, and due to no new creative ingenuity, here I go again: What did the movie do wrong? Nothing, really. Compared to other holiday movies I have seen, though, it is largely unambitious. I felt the sagging cable production values all the way through, noticed similar scenes and ideas from other stories (with these reproduced ones having no real energy put into them to ensure at least a certain freshness), some overdone or over-serviced acting, stretched and dramatically ill-attuned plot, a few awkwardly unrealistic images and happenings, and probably just plain handling in general.
Well, I guess the plot really isn't all that stretched. Stranded-and-trying-to-get-somewhere-before-a-certain-deadline has been done to death, many times in short form throughout countless movies. It's the stuff that happens along the way, along with the eventual payoff, that determines the final quality you give to a film that inserts itself into that patch. As I stated before, unremarkable goings-on when thinking about other movies like this. You have the loaned or cheap car that is not meant to operate, the people you hitchhike with who turn out to be even weirder than you are. I think what I really felt made the movie's plot stretched out is the acting and writing. The pacing's all right for a smooth cruise. These characters can work for a half-hour long show, but they do not feel dramatically upholding over a longer-spread plot that is 81 minutes in length. It strips away the amusing feelings you associate with each individual family member's quirkiness, and there is not really all that much left over. In this movie, there's not enough stunts, not enough wit for the actors to play around with. It's too nice for that. It longs to be all nice, warm, and fuzzy, and so falls short by distancing us from feeling what is really going on. It wants to retain the slight weirdness of the original show, but ends up making the characters too ordinary, and doesn't give us enough reason to like them as they are, but instead crave through hints of their truly bizarre nature to really break out. (Though when this plea is tried in the beginning it is a bit too much.)
Though there are a few other parts of the movie that I can recall that stood out poorly (the unrealistically-long vehicle-falling-apart sequence, the image of zany alien abduction victims with their huge and briefly petrifying tools for removing tracking devices which feels like it was meant for a different film, natural set lighting choices throughout, and a supposedly comic caroling fight between Teddy and her mother for money among them), the biggest problem was the ending. People who don't really care about the quality of the production when watching the movie won't care about the irksome ending either. There's no dramatic heft, it felt lazy, and while aiming for feel-good it ends up as schmaltz, with "of course!" and "why not?" moments happening here and there. Because, you know, that's what all feel-good movies should end with, right? On a more positive note, "wicked child" with Charlie during the monsters-on-tv sequence was of a better note, as was the continuous gag of the different business owners who bought each other out.
If you don't see the reason why any of these things might have made me give this movie a low rating, or that I didn't explain some of my points enough, to the latter, I already feel like I may have given too much away, and to the former, then go ahead, watch the film when you feel like it, and prove me wrong. If you don't know very much about the final season and a half or so of the show, there is one mild surprise regarding Momma Duncan that may feel like a little bit of a payoff as well. My rating: 2 1/8 /5