Another Canaan Another Christmas
When I discovered they had made a sequel to "Christmas in Canaan" I thought it had to be a mistake and was expecting little when I came to watch "Christmas Comes Home to Canaan" which is also known as "Christmas Returns to Canaan". I was pleasantly surprised because whilst not the greatest of made for TV Christmas movies it does a good job of continuing the story of the Burton family and the various issues they encounter. As such the focus of this sequel is that of the family moving on as Daniel meets a woman and despite it being 14 years since his wife passed away he feels conflicted and so does his daughter. The subject of race is still part of the mix and also the subject of fear but most importantly it still has that feel of being as wholesome as "The Waltons" which makes it a pleasure to watch.
Following on from Rodney (Matt Ward) explaining to Daniel (Billy Ray Cyrus) and Bobber (Liam James) that a surgeon friend would like to try and help Bobber with his disability, father and son head to San Francisco where Bobber has second thoughts when he learns that an operation could make things worse rather than better. But thanks to physiotherapist Briony Adair (Gina Holden - Final Destination 3) Bobber agrees to have the op. It is also Briony who brings a smile to Daniel's face as they become close and start dating but having invited her to spend Christmas with the family back in Canaan things don't go well as Sarah (Emily Tennant) struggles having another woman in the home.
I know it is simple but one of the nicest things about "Christmas Comes Home to Canaan" is that they continued the story as it was left in "Christmas in Canaan" with Rodney having shared the news that a specialist in California wanted to help Bobber. And then whilst the subject of prejudice still is part of the story they evolve a new yet believable story as the focus becomes all about the Burton household struggling with moving on when Daniel meets Briony. It is simple and has all been done before as we watch Sarah struggle with the realisation that Briony could take her mother's place but in a simple, homely sort of way it works. Add a subplot about Shoup's store also struggling for business and there is plenty of old fashioned, simple story telling going on.
Of course with this being a made for TV movie it is most certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea and "Christmas Comes Home to Canaan" is very much like a modern attempt to deliver the wholesome charm of "The Waltons". It sort of works, not to the point that it is in the same league as the still popular TV series but still delivers that innocence and moralistic aspects which for some will be cheesy whilst others will be charming.
As for the acting well whilst Emily Tennant has a bigger part to play this time as Sarah who has to deal with the idea of a new woman in her dad's life and we have Liam James struggling with his disability as Bobber the focus is very much on Billy Ray Cyrus as Daniel. And to be honest whilst this is not great acting, in fact a little shaky in places, the rawness of it adds to the honesty, when we see Cyrus searching for his words it feels right for a country farmer. As for Gina Holden who plays Briony well unfortunately the character is not that well written, almost stooge like to be the catalyst for the family drama but the innocence of watching Briony and Daniel together is nice.
What this all boils down to is that "Christmas Comes Home to Canaan" is a pleasant surprise as it has a nice storyline which evolves out of the first movie and focuses on some different issues. It's not brilliant, in fact as a TV movie "Christmas Comes Home to Canaan" is not great but it has simple and wholesome charm which makes it nice.