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“When there is a good movie in town, consider going to the theatre as a family. Your very patronage will give encouragement to those who wish to produce this kind of entertainment.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “In Opposition to Evil,” September 2004 Ensign)
Co-produced by BYU-TV, this well-acted adaptation of The New York Times bestseller Christmas Jars is in over 800 theaters nationwide Monday night (November 4th) only, hosted by Fathom Events. Charming, wholesome, and inspiring, those looking to kick off the holiday season with the spirit of giving may want to make time for this. Read my review below and get tickets in your area here.
WHAT’S CHRISTMAS JARS ABOUT?
After suffering a personal tragedy, reporter Hope Jensen receives an anonymous gift: a glass jar filled with coins and bills. Digging deeper, she discovers an entire movement devoted to helping those in need through Christmas jars given anonymously without hope of recognition or praise.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: A-)
My measure for the quality of a film is how well it does what it sets out to do. Christmas Jars is a modestly-budgeted attempt at inspiring charity, kindness, and compassion that succeeds in its objective with an eye for quality. Handsomely-shot, warmly-acted, and smartly-written, it doesn’t aim for artistic novelty or big-budget thrills, but what it does, it does very well. Director Jonathan Wright guides the proceedings with an assured hand while stars Jeni Ross and Markian Tarasuik have undeniable chemistry. A few less-than-stellar acting moments by supporting players can’t derail the overall quality here, and by and large the cast in excellent. Moving, inspiring, and uplifting, with a charming romance to boot.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR FAMILY?
Yes! Co-produced by BYU-TV, there’s nothing offensive here.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
Several. What most comes to mind is the Savior’s instruction to “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:1-5). King Benjamin taught that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). Jesus told us that when we serve each other, we serve him (see Matthew 25:40)
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For a thorough exploration of what apostles and prophets have said about watching uplifting media, along with hundreds of reviews and Gospel discussion guides, pick up a copy of my book 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families!
Jonathan Decker is a licensed marriage and family therapist, actor, author, and film critic. He is known for starring in The KJZZ Movie Show and the Utah action-comedy CTU: Provo, performing with BYU’s Divine Comedy, and as the author of 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families.