Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Movie Review: Christmas Comes Home to Canaan

Photo credit Hallmark Channel and New York Daily News

Christmas Comes Home to Cannan brings viewers back to Canaan, Texas. Now it's the late 70's , and Daniel Burton (Billy Ray Cyrus) has been a widower for more than a decade. The racial strife that plagued the area in the 1960's left Bobber (Liam James) crippled. Now, there might be a chance that going to California for surgery will help him to walk again.

When Daniel meets Dr. Briony Adair (Gind Holden), the attraction is clear. But as Daniel and Briony draw closer, they realize that Daniel isn't ready to move on. He's not sure his daughter Sarah (Emily Tennant) is either. In the year that he and Briony are apart, Daniel searches his soul and reaches out to Shoup (Julian D. Christopher) to help his business.

I feel Christmas Comes Home to Canaan is one of those movies that had tons of good intentions but fell totally flat. I did not know that this was a sequel to Christmas in Canaan (2009), which also starred Cyrus. The 2009 movie told the story of how DJ (a white farm boy) and Rodney (an African-American) became friends in the racially charged town of Canaan, Texas. Years have passed, and now Rodney is a writer, DJ is running the farm, and Sarah has aspirations of going to college.  Life for Bobber is going to get a bit more challenging, as he goes under the knife in the hopes of walking again. Though the years have passed, not everything in Canaan has changed. White people still drive miles out of their way to purchase supplies rather than travel into town to Shoup's General Store.

While Christmas in Canaan was Hallmark Channel's highest-rated movie in 2009, perhaps they should have left well enough alone. Christmas Comes Home to Canaan proves that Billy Ray Cyrus is not a dramatic actor. While he has the widowed county boy down from years of playing Robbie Ray on Hannah Montana, he has an expressionless face. He doesn't exude passion, surprise, or even love. If you go to this photo gallery for the movie, you'll see what I mean. For the life of me, I can't imagine why I sat through the entire movie except that I kept hoping it would get better.

Emily Tennant pulled off a winning performance as a young daughter who was thrust into the role of surrogate mother to the family after Daniel's wife passes away. She is confused over whether she should attend college and leave the family she has cared for since her mother's death. While she is happy that her father is interested in Briony, she can't get over the feeling that her presence in the house is wrong.

It has a classic feel-good Hallmark ending, which is just about all that makes the movie worth watching. Cyrus has a new song out titled, Home. The viewers are treated to seeing the video at the end. It's beautiful and features clips from the movie.

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