Silver Bells
by Phil Boatwright

Bruce Boxleitner, Kenton Duty, Kevin Downes, Antonio Fargas, Bridgett Newton. Not Rated.

FILM SYNOPSIS: When a self-centered TV sports personality gets in a scuffle with a ref at his son's basketball game, he is suspended from his on-air position and sentenced to community service -- manning a red kettle and ringing bells for the Salvation Army. At first he can’t understand the true purpose of community-spirited organization of the people who man it. But as he encounters the people behind the kettle, his life - and especially his relationship with his son - is changed by something as simple as ringing a bell. Filmed on location in Michigan. In other words, that’s real snow.

PREVIEW REVIEW: The family is at odds and dad’s a jerk. Will things change by film’s end? If you don’t know that, you don’t know films made for the Christmas season. But before you write it off as I almost did, there’s actually some resonance to Silver Bells.

After establishing the fact that the main protagonist has lessons to learn, the film begins to garner our attention and, with a gentle touch, reminds us not just what the season is really all about, but what truly satisfies the heart all year long. While most of these made for TV or straight to video holiday movies try to persuade viewers that the real meaning of the season is family, friends and doing the right thing, this is one that also reminds us of what Christmas is really all about – the birth of Jesus. The gospel message has been incorporated into the plot.

There’s no preaching, but we see true examples of how lives have been changed because of their faith in Christ. It becomes a feel-good movie as the main character discovers that it feels good to do the right thing.

I learned an important lesson watching this film. Don’t pass the bucket without stopping. The Salvation Army becomes a main character in this production and the portrait of that organization reminds us that it is Christ-centered and that its members do for others. Have you noticed the people ringing those bells outside your favorite supermarket are always kind? I’m betting they could use a little kindness in return. I generally walk by, thinking I give enough to other organizations. After seeing this movie, I’ll never look the other way again. If I don’t have the change, I’ll go back to the car or, better yet, put in a bill. What’s more, I’ll take the time to talk to Army member. I’m thinking you’ll do the same after seeing Silver Bells. And, maybe more!

Silver Bells will air December 1st on the Up Cable network. It is also available on DVD from Pure Flix, with extra features. Not rated, I found nothing objectionable. There are other films with the same title; be sure to see this one starring Bruce Boxleitner. Solid entertainment for the whole family.