Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage 光的畫家－聖誕小屋
By James Donald, The China Post
November 7, 2008, 9:25 am TWN
Christmas has come early this year, yet with such repetitive undertones that you might not be sure whether you were glad to see it again.
Once again, the film industry has begun its annual meditation on the spirit of Christmas and sharing, but this time from a slightly more artistic bent.
That's not to say that this year is any more expressive of the abstract or philosophical meaning behind the Coca-cola sponsored shop-till-you-drop ritual, though does provide an anecdotal reflection on how a certain painter learned to give his works the warmth of life.
"Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage," known by those with alzheimers — or any others too young to have made a run-in with the 1,000 preceding Yuletide hovels — as "The Christmas Cottage."
The film seems to rejoice in its B-Grade status, opening with a panoramic eagle's eye swoop over the snow-swept pines of a 1970s U.S.. Somehow you just know that buzzing little combo-bike below is drawing us well into the thick of that elusive, yet festive mistletoe spirit, where you know you would be freezing more than a few artifices off had you not installed that luxurious ducted heating. And it is none other than that cold which spurs on the characters throughout the flick.
The Kinkade boys have come home for Christmas, and receive just the right measure of cheer and affection from Momma Kinkade as might be expected. By the time they get inside, however, the boys realize that their home has run steeply downhill into a state of disrepair, with stereotyped leaking ceilings to boot.
Despite their mother's assurances, it doesn't take long to unravel the whole story, and are shocked to discover the bank is preparing to foreclose their childhood home.
The two boys decide that night to scrap their school break and earn the money needed to pay off their debts and win back the cottage. The last time we see the younger Kinkade brother — I didn't even catch his name, he just popped in and out — is when he gets to work helping a neighbor wage a war of front-yard Christmas nick-knacks against his excessively competitive opponents across the way.
As an aspiring painter, Thomas manages to land a much more lucrative gig painting a town mural, which sets the scene for an intimate introduction of each of the townsfolk, as he progressively paints each of them into the picture.
The film is highlighted by Kinkade's relationship with a once-brilliant artist whom age has gotten the better of. However, actor .... by no means lets his fellow cast members get the best of him, powering what precious little genuine emotion the movie delivers.
However, his final "masterpiece" turns out to be as mushy as the easy-to-swallow artistic principles he transmits to Kinkade. But it might be recognized that there was a deeper message behind the art of living, rather than the living for art. This is most obviously expressed when Kinkade accepts the painting and says he will treasure it forever, to which his mentor replies "No you will not, you will take it directly to my agent and sell it to save this cottage." Though shallowly expressed, the importance of human beings over pieces of artwork could have been a more central issue for the script for what has left one viewer with the feeling of a draft in this year's lofty Christmas musings.