Rick Santorum's New Christmas Movie is Officially a Flop

TheChristmasCandlePromo.jpg
Shortly after former Senator Rick Santorum took the reins as CEO of Dallas' EchoLight Studios, he began pimping "The Christmas Candle," a holiday parable about the residents of a quaint English village protecting traditional values (a miracle-producing candle) against the forces of modernity (electricity).

The film "hearkens back to the heartwarming and uplifting movies of yesteryear," Santorum proclaimed. It's destined to become "the next holiday classic."

EchoLight succeeded in the former. The latter? Let's ask the critics.

See also: There's a Civil War Brewing at Rick Santorum's Dallas-Based Christian Film Company

Joe Neumaeir, New York Daily News

This odd Dickens-meets-Sunday-school movie is as artless as the setup is muddled...It's as if a little plastic holiday village came to life. Except that might be interesting.

Peter Sobczynski, rogerebert.com

"The Christmas Candle" is a determinedly retro-minded holiday saga that contains no foul language, gruesome violence indeed anything beyond the mildest suggestion of hanky-panky, and for a certain portion of the moviegoing public, these absences alone would be enough to warrant a recommendation. The trouble is that the filmmakers have also neglected to include such other elements as wit, style, energy or anything resembling a coherent narrative. The end result is the kind of vaguely distasteful Yuletide concoction that viewers normally find playing on cable channels that they don't even realize that they have.

Randy Cordova, Arizona Republic

The whole thing is sentimental corn, which isn't bad if it's handled with conviction and sincerity. But the direction by John Stephenson (better known for special effects than directing) is resolutely stiff and hollow. That's murder for a movie dealing with miracles.

David Noh, Film Journal International:

Only the most diehard fans of holiday pablum will be able to swallow this Bible-banging hunk of whimsy.

Kyle Smith, New York Post

Ultimately, this throwback, made-for-TV-style film takes the easy way out in a cheesy climax, but its resolute quaintness may appeal to the kind of viewers who regard electricity as disturbingly newfangled.

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

[F]or all the religious passion on display, director John Stephenson is unable to infuse the proceedings with anything more than a Hallmark Hall of Fame-style dullness.

Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune

If lush settings were plums and costumes were nuts, we'd all have fruitcake for Christmas.

And we could enjoy it watching the lovely looking but dramatically flat and emotionally sterile "The Christmas Candle," a pretty period piece of a holiday fable that lacks only the wit, decent story and better dialogue that might have made it a classic.

(The film did get at least one positive review, which ironically came from the Los Angeles Times, the official daily newspaper of -- Santorum's words -- Satan's playground.)

Of course, faith-based family films are routinely panned by the secular media. The ultimate judgment will come from the families who yearn for good, clean holiday entertainment.

"That's what people across America and the world are looking for, including my own family," Santorum explained when the movie was announced. "We're always searching for movies we can take the whole family to, and we think there are millions of others who share that desire."

Unfortunately for Santorum and EchoLight, most of those people have stayed home since "The Christmas Candle" premiered a week ago. As U.K.'s The Guardian reports this morning, the movie is a box office flop, grossing just over $1 million.

There's always the hope that America's traditionalists are just waiting until after Thanksgiving to start celebrating Christmas.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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43 comments
bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

To paraphrase Perot, there's a great big sucking sound coming from the Evangelical Republican movie script market.

They need someone who will tell the story of religious and anti-government zealots - but which will hold them up as deep-thinking, moralistic heroes.


jilliehoenig
jilliehoenig

Our family saw The Christmas Candle and we loved it.  The scenery is beautiful, and the filming and acting were well done.  But more importantly, the movie has something worthwhile to say.  In a world so filled with despair and devastation, it provides a reminder about the need for loving-kindness toward one another.  We have to be intentional in seeking out ways to encourage our hearts, and this film provides a bright spot to enjoy.  It is based on the book by highly regarded and well loved Max Lucado, it is not Rick Santorum's creation.

ruddski
ruddski

Haven't seen it, but can it be any worse than the NRA Xmas movie for gun nuts and sexists?

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

I'm willing to bet that Black Nativity will bring in more paper.

ryan762
ryan762

I was going to say that maybe Santorum should think about hiring union members in the future (in the creative arts, the best  are much more likely to be in a union than not), but for a limited release like this, the theatrical gross is really not that bad. It's not great, for sure, but not extremely terrible.

scerinjen3
scerinjen3

It wasn't enough for Eric to simply say the movie was panned or ignore it  - since it has the wretch inducing stench of conservative endorsement it must be flayed and liquefied.  Don't just take Eric's word for it - look what other more qualified (way more qualified) people are saying about it.  Transparent Observer.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

The only Christmas movies worth watching are produced with the stop-motion technique.

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

I'm disappointed. No reviewer said the film was a big load of Santorum?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Santorum's distaste for modernity in art reminds one of another extreme right-wing fanatic:

"Anyone who sees and paints a sky green and fields blue ought to be sterilized."  ---Adolf Hitler

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

I'd rather sit thru a 100 minutes of Veggie Tales.

JackJett
JackJett

He should have left the full frontal shots of Susan Boyle in.

I love that "Satan's Playground" paper gave it a good review.  My hope was that it might be so bad it was good so I will wait to hear what Dan Savage has to say about the flick.

dingo
dingo

These substandard movies should be outlawed and folks should be forced to view more adequate subject matter.

d-may
d-may

Wonder what modern film critics would say about "Miracle of 34th St" or "It's a Wonderful Life"?

Probably nothing good. Their Critics. It's their jobs to be douche bags. 

brianmclaren
brianmclaren

apparently the movie was PG?  how is that even PG?

ruddski
ruddski

Destined to become the next holiday classic? A blatant, in- your-face LIE designed to get folks to buy in. Don't you just HATE that kind of shit? Well?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@jilliehoenig 

I'm personally very glad to hear religious and anti-government zealots complain about feeling like the world is "filled with despair and devastation".

It's an opportunity for them to reassess their lives and values - and to maybe learn to be a little less belligerent to decent folks.


ruddski
ruddski

C'mon, this post is as transparently fake as an Obama heckler at a 15K/plate dinner.

scerinjen3
scerinjen3

@ruddski - I've seen that one, and it is SO derivative of LaPierre's earlier works.  

plainsman1
plainsman1

@ryan762  

That depends - they seem to be keeping their production cost a secret, so just how bad the level of financial  failure might be is harder to evaluate.

scerinjen3
scerinjen3

So a movie is bad therefor invoke the name of Hitler?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Speaking of movies, Big Kitty is ecstatic over having snagged the part of Mrs. Ganush in Catsgate Pictures' version of Drag Me to Hell

txpatriot
txpatriot

@dingo OK but there's that little matter of the First Amendment.

PlanZero
PlanZero

@d-may Interesting point. I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and say that the movie's only problem is its intended audience is stuck in 1946.

Daniel
Daniel

@d-may Apparently even critics have "their critics."

Daniel
Daniel

@brianmclaren Must have been the "mildest suggestion of hanky panky." Also, if you freeze it at 1:09:37, you can see her heart-warmingly old-fashioned bush. 

dmtrousd
dmtrousd

It would have been G, but (spoiler alert!) there is some brief side boob.

txpatriot
txpatriot

@ruddski Don't like it?  Don't see it -- problem solved.  Isn't freedom of choice great?

d-may
d-may

@ruddski "blatant, in- your-face LIE designed to get folks to buy in" aka "advertising"

Are you new to capitalism?

jilliehoenig
jilliehoenig

@ruddski I assure you my comments are true, heartfelt, and not politically motivated in the least.

ryan762
ryan762

@plainsman1 @ryan762 That's true to the extent that we're trying to determine profitability, but assigning the term "hit" or "flop" doesn't usually take profitability into it.

There are a number of flops that were profitable and plenty of hits that weren't.

Comparing it to other movies with similar release patterns shows that the movie, while not a runaway hit, is not really a flop (and I would expect a movie like this, like many religious movies, to get a larger percentage of its revenue from home video anyway.

Nobody wants Santorum to fail more than I do, but I don't think we should hold his movie to a higher standard than we would other, similarly sized releases.

dingo
dingo

@txpatriot @dingo  

No matter, the movie is substandard and  people should be pulled out of the theaters mid-movie even if they like their movie and want to keep it.

kayo
kayo

@dmtrousd Gee, I guess they cut out Santorum's cameo, where the titular "candle" was utilized as a buttplug.

Dub919
Dub919

@txpatriot I didn't realize people who refer to themselves as "patriots" were big fans of "choice".

dingo
dingo

@txpatriot @dingo  

substandard = bad

like and want to keep = tough shit

health care police = movie police

txpatriot
txpatriot

@Dub919 Well now you know.  You learn something new everyday!.

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