The Christmas Shoes (review)
It’s All About Sole
Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please / It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size.
If those lyrics, echoing over a shopping mall PA, make you want to run screaming through the food court with a machine gun, or perhaps just put a bullet in your own head to stop the pain, then this is not the movie for you.
Can you believe it? They made a movie out of that insanely inane song. And when I say “they,” I mean the insidious They: our overlords in the military-industrial-entertainment complex, offering us some (supposedly) feel-good pabulum about downsizing, about trading in the corporate fast-track to teach elementary school, about the nobility of the struggling working class, about how we should all be grateful we’re together this Christmas and no one’s dying of congestive heart failure. And all this right at the moment when our economy is about to implode from layoffs and a cutoff in unemployment insurance, and personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures are at an all-time high.
Sure, Timmy, Daddy’s been laid off by a man who makes 3000 times what Daddy makes, but at least you don’t have to collect tin cans to buy your dying Mommy a present so she can look beautiful when she meets Jesus.
Welcome to Christmas Coincidence Theater, in which a pair of hideous red brocade shoes fall off a delivery truck right in front of Sam Seaborn– I mean, Rob Lowe. Rob brings them home, where his wife whimpers at him to spend more time with her and their precious blond daughter, who just happens to be in the choir at school led by Kimberly Williams, who just happens to be dying of the aforementioned congestive heart failure. Rob delivers the shoes to the store where they were headed, where the kindly owner (whom I think is supposed to be God) directs Rob, who has sudden (or miraculous?) car trouble, to the mechanic who just happens to be Kimberly’s husband. (Like a decent American, as God surely is, he also kindly suggests that Rob “buy American” next time.) Rob’s wife just happens to leave the corporate fast-track to fill in for Kimberly at school — who, recall, is dying — while Kimberly’s son, for some inadequately explained reason, just happens to meet Rob’s mom, who just happens to wax nostalgic about what a nice boy her own son (Rob, that is) used to be. As Kimberly’s condition worsens — you’d think God, who is able to make cars conk out at will, could cause some helmetless biker’s bike to crash at 80MPH on the freeway and provide Kimberly with a new heart, but no — her son becomes fixated on buying his mom those hideous red shoes… the ones that, wait for it, flew off the truck to land at Rob’s feet so he could deliver them to the store and meet God who would send him to the mechanic whose wife would cause his own spouse to quit her job so the choir could be rehearsed enough to sing Kimberly Christmas carols on her deathbed while her son presents her with the red shoes.
Perhaps the worst thing of all is that if you’ve heard the song — and it’s impossible to avoid in the month of December unless you poke your eardrums out — you know how the damn thing ends. Then again, I supposed CBS didn’t want to give the tickers of its geriatric audience too much of a start. Wouldn’t do to have your key demographic keel over in the middle of the movie from too much excitement.
I can’t believe Rob Lowe is leaving The West Wing for cornball tripe like this. From the sharpest, fastest, screwballiest dialogue on TV to this “miracle of the tears of the smallest child with a heart of an angel” schmaltz. Fire your agent, Rob.
And now the Top 10 Most Cloyingly Sentimental Lines in The Christmas Shoes, context not necessary:
10. “He’s honest, he’s decent, and he knows cars.”
9. “You don’t know what my dreams are.”
8. “Ever since I was a little girl I just loved to dance.”
7. “Would God be mad at me if I told him I didn’t want him to take you to heaven?”
6. “It’s almost a miracle, isn’t it, snow on Christmas Eve?”
5. “What’s wrong with trying to make the world a better place for somebody?”
4. “I’m gonna be seeing a lot of angels soon, in heaven.”
3. “Sometimes when things are darkest, it’s for a reason.”
2. “Every time my I hear my heart beat, I’m gonna think of you.”
And the No. 1 Most Cloyingly Sentimental Line in The Christmas Shoes:
1. “If we’re open to it, the smallest of miracles can change our lives: the laugh of a child, a pot roast dinner, a car that needs fixing, even a pair of shoes.”
It’s the “pot roast dinner” that does it for me.