The Christmas Project is a great holiday film to watch this Christmas because it tackles the issues behind bullying in middle school, offers a non-violent solution to forgiving a bully and it doesn’t have an unrealistic happy ending.
As with most fairly-popular low-budget Christmas films, I assumed this film would lack creativity and depth. I assumed that this film would feature four stereotypical grade school boys who were annoyed by their lack of freedom and independence, so one day they wished upon a special Christmas star that their parents were gone or that they were never born. However, as the excitement of being independent wore off after about an hour, the boys realized that their lives were better with their family. Finally, the film ends with the boys waking up from this horrible dream, immediately jump out of their beds and run into their parents room giving them tight hugs. This basic formula for a classic Christmas film, has been oversaturated and monetized by lazy unmotivated directors. After the legendary work of Macaulay Culkin in the Home Alone series, I’m not impressed by any random child actors looking to create an adventure on Christmas day.
The Christmas Project is a family movie that was produced by Big Blue Marble Media, Curiously Strong Productions and Elving Movie. This film was released in November of 2016 and is told from the perspective of the main character, Matthew Bickley. Most of the actors within this movie are not well known. Unfortunately, this film has lost most of its popularity since its release in 2016. The writer, Matthew Buckley based the story off his real experiences as a child. The other writer, Sally Meyer is a producer and has written other screenplays since 2008. This film aligns with the family-friendly theme in most of Sally’s screenplays. The director, Michael Buster is known for producing films where the main character discovers their true-identity or learns a valuable lesson about life. However, Sally Meyer and Michael Buster have recently experimented with new characters and plots in their latest works.
The Christmas Project follows the story of Matthew Buckley and his three brothers during their yearly “elving” tradition with their parents. Four days leading up to Christmas Eve, the family secretly leaves a present or “elf” at your front door and hides behind the bushes. However, this year, Pam Buckley, their mom decided to “elf” the Hagbart’s family, the home of their neighbor and middle school bully. Matthew Buckley and his brothers are constantly physically and verbally abused by Finn Hagbart. As the season of “Elving” commenced, Matthew realized that Finn was harboring the pain and anger from losing his mom unto the Buckley boys. Throughout the film, multiple positive role-models such as his teacher and his bus driver, reminded him that showing love and kindness towards Finn will have long-term results. In the end, Finn respects Matthew for protecting him in front of the class and makes a funny joke about owing Matthew a favor. At the end of the film, Finn’s dad realizes that he cannot raise his kids on his own and they all leave town to live with his mother.
Similar to most solutions for conflict in Christmas films, kindness is the answer. Christmas is all about forgiveness and showing love to your enemies. I like how this film recognizes that most bullies have deep-rooted personal issues that are causing them to lash out on others. The film helped me reflect on my own experiences with bullying in grade school. Instead of talking to my parents or a trusted adult about being bullied, I always ran away and hoped that things would change tomorrow. This is a common response that most kids have when getting bullied in middle school. This film reminds kids that violence will only pro-long the cycle of fear and violence and promotes the power that kindness can have on forgiveness. Throughout the film, Matthew struggled with the concept of loving his enemies even though they continuously hurt him. However, after he realized that Finn’s anger was the result of his personal situation at home, he could move past the hurt that Finn had caused him.
The Christmas Project is a family-friendly Christmas film that shows the effects that bullying and death can have on a child’s character and behavior in school. This film’s storyline started off a little slow and it took a while to introduce the main characters of the film. However, I enjoyed how the story line went beyond Christmas day. This film showed Matthew Buckley getting grounded, his daily arguments with his brothers, his school life and his first crush. I would recommend this movie for families during the holidays because it starts a discussion about how to properly handle a bully at school. I regret bottling in the physical and emotional abuse that I received in middle school. If I had the courage to talk to my parents, siblings, teachers or a trusted adult, I could’ve forgiven the person who bullied me. Similar to Matthew’s situation, I found out that I was just an outlet for my bully’s suppressed anger and fears. More kids should watch this film and have the courage to stand-up to their bullies for their own peace of mind. The movie ends with another family arriving in the neighborhood with two teen boys who were immediately aggressive as Matthew tried to welcome them into the neighborhood. This shows how bullies especially target unique individuals. If you do not stand-up for yourself now, you will always be a punching bag for someone else’s problems.