The Under 700 Club: The Fitzgerald Family Christmas (2012)
Consider this for your holiday rotation.
The Under 700 Club: Reviews in under 700 words for movies with less than 700 logs on Letterboxd (log count as of this publication: 625)
Edward Burns has been doing this thing for a long time: making small-budget indie movies about people like him, families like his family, heritage, love, religion, and what it means to try and live life as a walking and talking representation of those things.
He also writes, directs, produces, and stars in these movies. Movies with budgets of a couple bucks, that only make a couple bucks (this movie made $13.8K according to Rotten Tomatoes or $50.9K according to Box Office Mojo - plus whatever distribution money).
He also makes these movies really well. He populates them with characters you like, casts them with people you like (including, of course, himself, and his rotating repertory troupe, like an always great Connie Britton), and lets them do all the talking. Literally. There isn't always a lot of plot, just a lot of talking.
He does this all in The Fitzgerald Family Christmas. As the holiday approaches, Gerry (Burns) and his eight brothers and sisters must convince their mother to let their no-good father come over for Christmas morning, one that very well may be his last thanks to his worsening health.
Standouts among the siblings are Kerry Bishé and Michael McGlone, both returning after previous collaborations with Burns. The siblings, being such a large family, range in ages that are decades apart and these two show the best of that borderline-generational divide. McGlone's Quinn wants to see his father for one final holiday, while Bishé's Sharon was amongst those who he walked out on - and couldn't care less to see him again. Despite the fact that they had totally different upbringings, agree on very little, and don't even really know much about each other, they love each other. And protect each other. Because that's what families do.
If you're there for me, I'm there for you.
That is what makes this a very successful Christmas movie. It was probably only a matter of time until Burns took his tough-love Irish clans and centered one of those stories around Christmas. By the time he got around to it, he had assembled a group of actors and a style of working that combined give you all that you want in a story about a family coming together for the holiday.
It's not a movie about the conflict, you can probably imagine how the movie ends, but instead about love, acceptance, values, and showing up for each other.
And isn't that what makes a family Christmas movie a family Christmas movie? Meaningful relationships, moving on from mistakes, and making memories - especially on the day that we do those things best.
If you're looking for an easy watch - a kind, thoughtful, sentimental watch this time of year, this is perfect for you. It brings all of the things you love about Hallmark or Netflix Christmas content into the indie filmmaking world, complete with all of the love and care that comes with that. The love and care we look for in stories about love and care.
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