Saving Christmas, also known as Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas, is a 2014 crappy low-budget Christmas faith-based home video that calls itself a comedy film. It was written, produced, and directed by, and stars Darren Doane, though its main star is everyone's favorite fundamentalist Christian right-wing windbag, Kirk Cameron, who plays as a fictionalized (albeit equally uninteresting) version of himself. Cameron spends the majority of the film in a car explaining about Christmas traditions while trying to convey to his brother-in-law (played by Doane) that Christmas as currently celebrated in the United States, extravagant partying and gifting and all, is in fact, a Christian holiday and not to be feared as a satanist/money-making scheme/elf-worshiping occultist celebration, which would be great if (A) Cameron actually had his facts straight and (B) anyone cared. In short, it's basically prosperity gospel propaganda.
Overall, the film suffers from problems too numerous to even list: its cinematography is bad, its editing even worse, and it is overall about as interesting and enlightening as staring at a cheese wheel for an amount of time equivalent to how long it runs. The film's humor is so bad and so off-point that it's honestly hard to tell which scenes are trying to be serious and which ones aren't. But probably worst of all, literally everything about this movie is padded to extend the running time, including pointless slow motion in pretty much any scene without dialogue, unnecessarily long pauses during any scenes with dialogue, excessive stammering during dialogue, scenes that are sometimes completely irrelevant to the story, and the big print/non-scrolling credits since normal credits would have been over in about 45 seconds. Despite all this, it only runs for 79 minutes including the credits.
The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics and audiences and is considered one of the worst films of all time, holding a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes from 13 reviews, and at one point reaching rock bottom on the IMDb's bottom 100 list.[note 1] As of 2020, it is the 79th worst film at IMDb. Reviews of the film (none of them positive) also appeared on several YouTube channels. While virtually no reviews seem to have addressed religion qua religion directly, or at least not negatively, Cameron nonetheless blamed the film's negative reception on (wait for it) "haters and atheists".
The film was released on a brief theatrical run on November 14th, 2014, grossing $2.8 million US dollars. As of February 2021, the film is available for free on YouTube, which is great, since anyone adventurous enough to discover this forbidden jungle of terror can do so for free!
The film opens with a poorly shot opening of yours truly sitting in set piece disguised as a living room droning on about how much he loves Christmas (and apparently, the color red). He loves it so much that his rambling devolves into a long winded complaint about the so-called War on Christmas, which ends up turning into a rant on how he can't shove his fundamentalist Christmas shit down the throats of others who do not celebrate Christmas (presumably, this would include all the Jews who celebrate Hanukkah or the African Americans who observe Kwanzaa). While "drinking" from an obviously empty cup, he also makes a side remark about how the Christmas spoilsports are claiming that Druids inventing hot chocolate (Huh?).[note 2] For some reason, this entire scene is accompanied by generic piano music in the background: apparently, playing any kind of Christmas music was out of the question. Note: watch this part with subtitles if you can; the obnoxiously loud fireplace crackling can make it hard to hear what Cameron is droning on about. Viewers will quickly realize that this entire scene takes way too long to effectively set viewers up for the movie. Cameron seems to speak awkwardly slowly while taking fake sips, because Cameron is trying desperately to pad the movie's running-time to reach "feature length": it doesn't even take a professional filmmaker to figure this out. So let's get that counter going: ahem … PADDING moment #1.
After about a very-long four minutes of that, Cameron's God-awful logo flashes across the screen. We then cut to some footage of a bearded guy (later shown to be St. Nicholas) walking through some woods while Cameron narrates something over the background. Spoiler: this is literally just recycled footage that appears later on in the film. PADDING moment #2.
This is abruptly followed by opening credits, accompanied by an animated depiction of Jesus' birth with a bad filter over it and obnoxious red text. Probably the worst thing, however, about this shot is the annoyingly upbeat rendition of the song "Silent Night," which is actually, you know, supposed to be a slow, gentle song, but of course leave it up to Cameron to screw up anything decent.
We then enter the main premise of our "story": the Christmas party! Notable about this scene is that it's probably the only non-dialogue scene in the entire film that's not in slow motion, so enjoy it while you can). Cameron then introduces himself, even though we already saw him in the otherwise pointless opening scene. He also introduces his unnamed sister who loves Christmas parties. The two begin to engage in awkwardly-written dialogue. Cameron asks where his brother is, and—here's the big plot twist—he's nowhere to be found, so it must mean he hates Christmas. No, seriously, Cameron concludes that just because his brother isn't in his realm of visibility, he suddenly hates Christmas. There's something useful to sort out the Scrooge people at your next party! But, continuing, this conversation abruptly cuts off when Kirk, while walking clear out of frame and the camera not following him, begins pouring hot chocolate for the children … for no reason.[note 3] PADDING moment #3.
The film then cuts into the other room, where a man just sits there on the couch, staring awkwardly into the camera. He is quite depressed, although without Cameron's soulless narration, you would never guess, because the actor looked anything but depressed when they were shooting this scene. Sure enough, this character turns out to be Kirk's fictitious brother-in-law, Christian White. We are not kidding, that's actually the name they went with on this. Christian White just sits there, in the chair, lonely, because he dislikes Christmas due to its alleged hijacking of materialism, secularism, elf worship, and pretty much anything about Christmas that doesn't have to do with Jesus. Hang tight now, this is where the film gets really creepy! Our Christian White sits there, watching all the children dancing and laughing, with utter terror in his face, while evil laughter and horror music play in the background. Christian White is having a difficult time getting over the demonic horrors of Christmas. But suddenly, Christian's thoughts are interrupted by Diondre, a character who can be easily considered the most stereotypical sassy black character that has ever been depicted on film. He greets Christian and begins rambling on crazy shirts. PADDING moment #4.
With Diondre's babbling being the last straw, Christian goes and sits in his car by himself, probably to weep or something. Kirk finds him and gets in the car with him. Keep in mind, about 80% of this movie takes place in this scenario: two boring-ass men talking in a car at night and switching back and forth between three stationary shots. Very festive. Taking unnecessarily long pauses (PADDING moment #5), Christian explains why he hates Christmas—more specifically, what he hates about it, like how Christmas trees and snow globes are a distraction from commemorating Jesus' birth. He also makes a few better points about how all the finances for the season could've went toward feeding children and digging wells instead. At first Kirk says he validates the criticism … and then, mere seconds later, he rudely tells Christian that he's got it all wrong and that his concerns are ruining it for everyone in his house, even though, realistically, none of them would have even noticed, but whatever, just go with it, it's a movie.
Kirk begins by assuming the audience's most important set in their Christmas decorations as their nativity scenes, depicted in a snow globe (awkwardly brought up by Christian previously). He leads the film into the first of its many "flashback" sequences. He goes into some jabbering about the soldiers killing all the babies and the clothes that Jesus was born and died/buried in, which somehow has something to do with Christian's fear of snow globes. He then wants the viewers to imagine bloodthirsty soldiers around the nativity scene. And did we mention, this entire scene is in slow motion … for no reason? PADDING moment #6.
After that, the film then cuts back into the house, where Diondre gets talking with some other unnamed character. They begin ranting about the War on Christmas along with a bunch of other completely unrelated conspiracy theories. This scene literally serves no purpose in the movie whatsoever. PADDING moment #7.
Getting back to the car, Christian talks about his hatred of Christmas trees, citing that they do not appear in the Bible. Kirk's response that trees appeared in the Book of Genesis, originating from a lampstand in the tabernacle. Also, he claims that god invented winter solstice because he set the planets in motion, which is quite the God of the gaps argument. Kirk then goes on to claim that Christmas trees also represent the cross, where Jesus died for our sins; he encourages his viewers that if they ever go in a tree lot, they should imagine... these gruesome execution devices.
Still haunted with the evils of Christmas, Christian brings up Santa Claus, even calling him "Satan Claus"! Christian's irrational disdain for Santa leads into the film's next shitty scene, a comparison between Santa Claus as known today and the jolly old "Saint Nicholas" of history. It only takes a handful of brain cells to realize quickly that the only point of this scene is Cameron's painfully obvious attempt to copy The Lord of the Rings.[note 4] The scene ends with one of the single worst fight sequences in cinematic history, shot and edited so badly that, in an attempt to hide the awfulness of it, every single shot is spaced out by at least a second of black screen. The scene ends with a servant being a bad actress and Saint Nick putting away his fighting skills and whatever the rest of his acting skills are and deciding to go out and bless some kids and live happily ever after.
Santa's divine backstory is apparently the straw that breaks the camel's back (no nativity puns intended). Immediately after this segment, Christian is now suddenly so happy, and now loves Christmas so much, he busts the front doors of his house wide open, then slides headfirst across the floor into his living room, landing in the presents under the tree, to show his happiness. If this scene sounds awkward to you in words, don't worry, it's even worse actually watching it on film. Christian stares at the tree for literally two minutes straight in slo-mo (PADDING moment #8) while Kirk rehashes what we just heard over the last thirty minutes, followed by some awkward Santa pictures. Christian then stares at a snow-globe for another two straight minutes (PADDING moment #9) while Kirk rehashes even more of what we heard over the past hour. What's especially rich is that during his long-winded explanation for why he made this movie, Cameron wants to infuse old stories with new meaning (a.k.a. making shit up), trying to associate the presents with Biblical skylines and nutcrackers with child-killing soldiers; this is all while Cameron whines about how the "true" stories are being swept over by modern holiday symbols and traditions.
Christian walks up to his wife in—for no reason—slow motion (PADDING moment #10), where he reveals that he just set up a hip-hop dance routine to express the joys of Christmas. Of course, this is literally impossible since he's only been in the house for about sixty seconds (not considering slow motion). And this is what leads into the film's grand climax, the worst dance routine in movie history, and it goes on for literally four and a half straight minutes. PADDING moment #11. During the dance, some bored kids watch from the sidelines; they were probably just as confused as the audience watching, maybe more. The scene (finally) ends with Cameron shouting that it's feast time and everyone runs behind him off camera.
The film concludes with a monologue from Cameron, encouraging the viewers to eat their hearts out on Christmas, rehashing his shitty message yet again (PADDING moment #12) all while accompanied by an awkward montage of everyone eating.
The credits are accompanied by some outtakes, just as unfunny as the film itself, which nobody has probably seen since they shut the movie off long before. The post-credits scene is … wait for it … even more shitty bloopers. It's worth noting that neither set of bloopers are accompanied by credits. (PADDING moments #13 and #14.) There are also the aforementioned big-print credits, so make that PADDING moment #15.
Even for fundamentalist faith-based film standards, which are not high, the film was heavily panned by critics. As of December 2020, it has a rare 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 19 reviews,[note 5] while holding a 30% "audience" rating. Metacritic gave the film an 18 rating, indicating "overwhelming dislike," based on nine reviews, with a user score of 1.2, also signifying "overwhelming dislike," based on 82 ratings. However, what is probably the film's biggest accomplishment came when the film became the lowest-rated film on the entire Internet Movie Database bottom 100 list; it now sits at #6 behind the likes of Birdemic: Shock and Terror, Manos: The Hands of Fate, Code Name: K.O.Z., Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, and Disaster Movie.
- Worst Picture
- Worst Actor (recipient: Kirk Cameron)
- Worst Screenplay (recipient: Darren Doane and Cheston Harvey)
- Worst Screen Combo (recipient: Kirk Cameron and his ego)
The film was also nominated for Worst Supporting Actress (Bridgette Ridenour) and Worst Director (Darren Doane), but didn't win.
Response from Cameron
Unsurprisingly, Cameron was not pleased with the hateful reception of his masterpiece. He wasted no time taking to the Internet to rally his fan base to "storm the gates of Rotten Tomatoes". He said the following:
“”All of you who love Saving Christmas – go rate it at Rotten Tomatoes right now and send the message to all the critics that WE decide what movies we want our families see. If 2,000 of you (out of almost 2 million on this page) take a minute to rate Saving Christmas, it will give the film a huge boost and more will see it as a result! Thank you for all your help and support in putting the joy of Christ back in Christmas!
Well, Cameron's post got a big response, but not the one he was looking for: Internet users flocked in droves to Rotten Tomatoes in response to rate his film, giving it the lowest possible rating and lowering the film's audience rating even further.
After his disastrous attempt to save his already panned movie, Cameron, to the surprise of absolutely no one, later blamed the film's poor reception on a Reddit campaign that was driven by "haters, pagans and atheists". It seems that in Cameron's imaginary world, only Bible-burning satanic atheists would ever hate such a dull, unfunny, uninteresting, badly filmed, badly written, horribly edited, and just overall badly executed bad idea of a worthless poo film that makes watching paint dry interesting in comparison.
Other fun facts
- The entire soundtrack came from a stock music website.[note 6]
- VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer was asked to submit an opening segment to this film, but declined.
- Saving Christmas on YouTube
- Saving Christmas at IMDb
- Saving Christmas at Rotten Tomatoes
- Saving Christmas at Metacritic
- Extreme music website (where most of the movie's soundtrack came from
- Saving Christmas by Renegade Cut, YouTube, a review/dissection of the film that sees it as a propaganda piece for the prosperity gospel
- To quote physicist Richard Feynman about something completely different, "There's Plenty of room at the bottom."
- Chocolate as a drink is originally from Mesoamerica, and the Maya people have been one of the earliest consumers, though it is possible that chocolate consumption even predated that.
- Disclaimer: this scene was not sponsored by Reddi Whip, just in case you were wondering.
- Not least because Cameron narrates that he wants us to "picture this a little more Lord of the Rings-y."
- For all the critically drubbed movies out there, relatively few achieve a 'perfect' zero after five or more reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Wikipedia's helpful compilation lists only 43 other such movies, including notorious titles like Jaws: The Revenge, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, and Highlander 2: The Quickening.
- Extreme Music, according to the film's credits.
- IMDb "Bottom 100" (Sorted by Popularity Ascending) IMDb (archived from December 4, 2020).
- I Hate Everything's Saving Christmas review on YouTube
- Cinematic Excrement's Saving Christmas review on YouTube
- Cinema Snob's Saving Christmas review on YouTube
- Saving Christmas on YouTube.
- Saving Christmas at Rotten Tomatoes.
- Saving Christmas at Metacritic.
- B. Allen Orange (December 6, 2014). "Kirk Cameron's 'Saving Christmas' Voted Worst Movie Ever". MovieWeb. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
- "RAZZIES® Celebrate 35 Years of Worst Achievements in Film with Inclusive Nominee List ...and New "Redeemer" Award". Golden Raspberry Award Foundation. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
- King, Susan (February 20, 2015). "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas Dominates the 35th Razzie Awards", Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
- Koonse, Emma (November 21, 2014). "Kirk Cameron Urges Fans to Improve Saving Christmas Rating, 'Help Me Storm the Gates of Rotten Tomatoes'". The Christian Post. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
- Kirk Cameron Tried To Cheat Rotten Tomatoes, It Did Not Go Well Cinema Blend
- O'Neal, Sean (December 5, 2014). "Kirk Cameron Is Crucified at the Hands of IMDb Users, Rises with Jesus Coffee". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
- Trivia of Saving Christmas at IMDB.