The Perfect Gift
by Phil Boatwright

FILM SYNOPSIS: A faith-based Christmas story aimed at family, this DVD release centers on a spoiled schoolgirl (Christina Fougnie), her overworked executive mother, and a disillusioned young minister and how each receives an uplifting message about friendship, commitment, and the truest meaning of Christmas from a friendly but mysterious drifter (Jefferson Moore).

PREVIEW REVIEW: Viewers will find it relatable due to the problem list: a family facing financial fears, the disturbing distortion of our forefathers’ intent concerning the separation of church and state, and the troubling commercializing of Christ’s birthday in our culture. With its messages of faith, and examples of the true meaning of the holiday, The Perfect Gift is a little bit Miracle of 34th Street, mixed with The Bishop’s Wife and The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.

Made by the same filmmakers/stars/crew who gave us Clancy, this production is also church-friendly. No swear words are present and the action is done with sensitivity. It has been made for those looking for an alternative to most everything at the local bijou.

One fault that’s difficult for this reviewer to get past – the inclusion of three, or is it four, musical montages. Filmmakers with a limited budget often find themselves resorting to the use of this cinema gimmick, wherein the story features segments containing several quick dialogue-less scenes spliced together to show a passage of time. These moments, often used to further the story, are set to music, and in a faith-based film, that means some devout youth minister strumming a guitar while warbling the gospel message (in case you somehow missed the film’s theme). In this production there are several musical montages – and they go on and on. One montage can be tolerable, two are stretching it and three or more is intolerable.

With just a little more effort, the drama could have been furthered without this true-but-tired film trick, making the film shorter and most likely more poignant. But if these constant musical interruptions aren’t a turnoff, then you should find the rest of the movie fulfilling. Writer/director Jefferson Moore doesn’t flinch from incorporating the greatest story ever told and shows promise as a filmmaker. As for little Miss Fougnie, the verdict is still out concerning her thespian prowess, but she comes across well, being able to handle the range from snotty brat to caring waif.

Not rated, I found nothing objectionable in the content. It contains a clear telling of Jesus’ birth and reminds us to be vigilant concerning our religious freedoms, which seem to be eroding before our eyes. What’s more, the ending got to me. Be looking for the 86-minute family drama at local Christian bookstores. Suggested retail price is $19.99. The Perfect Gift can be purchased at most Christian bookstores.