Oct 16, 2023
Daniel Colyer, Laurie Ashbourne
Neil James, Shelly Bentley, Roxy Cornish-Sewell, Henri Charles, Brian Shaw
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, at least that’s what the supermarkets would have you believe. We’re not even out of October, with Halloween still to come, and yet the shops are beginning to stock up the cards, advent calendars and Christmas lights. It won’t be long until the trees go up and all you’ll be able to hear is Mariah Carey and Michael Buble. Whilst for so many others this is a time to rejoice, even if it’s far too early to be getting in the spirit, there are many figures - especially middle aged men in films - who despise the season, including the protagonist of ‘Christmas Time’, an insipid festive film that sticks to all Christmas film conventions, and with as little creativity technically as those Hallmark movies.
The veritable scrooge at the centre of ‘Christmas Time’ is physics teacher Kevin Snowdon (Neil James), who at first appears to be fun - bringing the plausibility of Santa’s existence into his physics class - but then emerges as your stereotypical scrooge. He detests Christmas and the very idea of celebrating the festive season disgusts him. Naturally over the course of the film, this scrooge - like Dickens’ Ebenezer and the endless line of Scrooge’s that have followed, from Michael Caine to Bill Murray - goes through a reckoning which finally leaves him in the Christmas spirit.
By now it’s a story so overdone that it almost needs its very own Christmas miracle to feel engaging, fresh, or even remotely worth watching. ‘Christmas Time’ is no different from all the rest, and honestly a little worse. The lack of invention in such a story is expected - although some effort to add an extra, unique element to the story would have perhaps made it just a little more interesting - but the script, written by Laurie Ashbourne and Daniel Colyer, disappoints further in its dialogue, which is robotic and cringe-inducing. At one point a character even says ‘happy wife, happy life’, truly demonstrating both the ill-thought-out nature of the writing, and the general themes that accompany this woeful spin on ‘A Christmas Carol’.
The film is far too caught up in stereotypes - and not just that involving the basic threads of Dickens’ immortal piece of literature - but rather more societal problems. The idea that a mans life is good simply because his wife is happy is dismissive of other issues that may trouble a man and his mental health, in addition to being incredibly dismissive of a woman’s role in such a marriage. Further stereotypes include that of the teenager being obsessed with social media and focused on not eating meat and making the seemingly impromptu decision to become a vegan.
The film is directed by Daniel Colyer with an incredible lack of real technical skill, to the point that each shot is jarringly composed, lacking depth to the stage that each shot looks as though it were practically flat. Furthermore, ‘Christmas Time’ lacks any semblance of visual flair, concerning itself mainly with shades and colours that fail to bring any of the life and magic of Christmas to screen.
‘Christmas Time’ is a dull film, one only worth watching to marvel at the innumerable tropes portrayed and the damaging, almost unbearable ways in which such tropes are presented.