Jared Padalecki in Christmas Cottage (2008)

Christmas at Kinkade's Cottage

I like schmaltzy and I like commercial as long as beneath what some might call tacky there is heart. It is why I like the paintings of Thomas Kinkade, they appeal to the everyman rather than the art connoisseur. It is also why I actually looked forwards to watching "Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage" because whilst my knowledge of the man is limited I hoped for a movie which had the same schmaltzy attributes of one of his paintings. And at times "Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage" is a schmaltzy movie with what many would say are fake, cheesy characters in a fake world with a heart warming message. But at the same time it is a very uneven movie which is easy to watch in its simplicity but at times seems to be reaching for something much more profound.

It's the winter of 77 and Thomas Kinkade (Jared Padalecki - House of Wax) is heading back home from Berkeley with his brother Pat (Aaron Ashmore) to spend Christmas with their mother Maryanne (Marcia Gay Harden - Sex and Lies in Sin City) in Placerville. But on returning home Thomas and Pat discover that not only has the home fallen into a state of disrepair with leaking plumbing but their mother has fallen behind on the house payments and the bank is about to foreclose. Looking to help their mother out Pat finds work helping a man set up the Christmas decorations whilst Thomas gets a job painting a town mural which he doesn't think much of so seeks advice from his mentor, neighbouring artist Glen (Peter O'Toole).

Edward Asner in Christmas Cottage (2008)

So "Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage" is a semi-biographical story of the artist and the Cottage which provided the focus of one of his most popular pieces of art. That's fine and dandy for those who are aware of Kinkade's art but for those who are just aware of him we have this story which ends up uneven. On one hand you have the story of the Kinkade's and their family home; there is also the story of Glen and his failing health plus the story of Thomas discovering his inspiration plus a few other things. It makes the movie shift from melodramatic, to schmaltzy to at times almost comedy but with the comedy often failing because of the uneven tone.

But whilst uneven it is still highly watchable with the various aspects touching you but not always working together. There is the cheesy side with the comedy, from the Three Kings in the nativity fighting to Chris Elliott in a terrible 70s wig which is amusing. There is the touching as we see how much Thomas's mum does for others, giving up her time for them. Plus there is Thomas's story and how he found his inspiration and his friendship with artist Glen. As I said everything works individually but doesn't work together as a coherent story.

It is the same with the performances because through out the movie Jared Padalecki and Marcia Gay Harden deliver sensitive performances. But then they are often sharing scenes with actors who are there delivering comedy such as Richard Burgi and Chris Elliott. So individually all the performances be it Peter O'Toole, Edward Asner, Geoffrey Lewis or any of the cast work they just don't feel like they belong together. But maybe in truth that is a compliment because there was that aspect to some of Kinkade's paintings which had elements which were commercial, elements which were touching and elements which didn't seem to belong in the composition.

What this all boils down to is that "Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage" is a curious movie which almost feels like a movie version of a piece of Kinkade art, commercial but curious yet also touching and that means that those who disregarded his art should stay well clear of this movie.

Tags: Christmas Movies