A Miracle on Christmas Lake Parent Review
For families with teens, this sentimental Christmas movie may spark some discussions about dealing with death, parental desertion and sibling dynamics.
The holiday season has never been easy for Bobby Whiteside (Kristian Jackson). His father wished him Merry Christmas before walking out on the family when the boy was eight. Bobby has blamed his mother (Anne Hawthorne) for his dad’s absence ever since and despised the winter celebration. Yet the teen’s life hits a new low when his best friend Charlie (Joe Perry) dies in a car crash on Christmas Eve.
A year after the accident, Bobby still grieves Charlie’s passing and as the season rolls around again, he becomes edgier. Despite his mother’s pleadings for peace during the holiday, Bobby’s dark mood contributes to more than one shouting match with his older brother Jeremy (Jayson Therrien) who, like Bobby, yearns to get out of the small town where they live.
Looking for some sort of solace, Bobby heads out on the lake where he and Charlie used to play hockey. After shoveling a path across the frozen water, Bobby suddenly sees a fully lighted hockey rink, complete with painted lines, boards and a gruff, old Zamboni driver. The only catch is Bobby is the only one who can spot it. And that makes him a target for teasing by the rest of his former hockey teammates who think he is losing his mind.
This chilly mirage might be enough for any 16-year-old to deal with, but a nasty land developer is also pressuring lakeside dwellers into selling their houses and that includes Bobby’s mom. If she signs, the family will be out of their home.
Adding this new element muddles the movie with multiple plot lines that don’t always play well together. Bobby tries to get others to see the rink. He tries to win the affections of fellow hockey player Karen Bell (Siobhan Williams). He tries to leave town. Then he tries to reconnect with his family in the spirit of the season. And finally he tries to stop the land developer by telling everyone about the magical, though invisible ice rink. His argument at the town council meeting is weak. Still, this is a Christmas story. So the townsfolk, who only moments earlier questioned his sanity, suddenly side with the boy. It’s an attempt at a warm, fuzzy ending that ends up feeling forced and slightly unsatisfying.
From a content perspective, the script contains a little more than a dozen swear words, some crude sexual comments and several scenes of teen bullying. There are a few fistfights and moments of yelling that could easily have ended with at least one of the characters in custody. As well, there is a boozy mall Santa (Will Sasso) that will crush any kid’s faith in the magical elf. However, for families with teens (that no longer believe in the red-suited man), the movie might spark some discussions about dealing with death, parental desertion and sibling dynamics.Directed by John Kissack. Starring Kristian Jackson, Anne Hawthorne, Joe Perry, Jayson Therrien, Siobhan Williams. Running time: 110 minutes. Updated December 5, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in A Miracle on Christmas Lake here.
A Miracle on Christmas Lake Parents Guide
Why does Bobby’s mom refuse to talk about his father? How does a lack of knowledge about the past color the way Bobby sees it? Why does he blame his mother for his father’s absence?
How does Bobby deal with the death of Charlie? What are some constructive or therapeutic ways to deal with loss, be it through death or desertion? How does his anger impact the rest of the family?