Christmas In The Clouds

"Bad"

Christmas In The Clouds Review


The success of independent films like March of the Penguins, Whale Rider, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding makes you wonder why Hollywood bigshots don't greenlight more projects like them -- modestly budgeted, impassioned movies without all the hubbub and fanfare of celebrity actors and niche marketing strategies. But the ugly truth is, Hollywood bigshots get it right more often than they get it wrong. Most independent films don't merit an audience wider than the festival circuit and the director's living room. They simply aren't good enough. Christmas in the Clouds is such a movie.

Watching it one can't shake a familiar, unpleasant feeling, a sense memory tied to bad TV. Perhaps if you combined the absolute worst episodes of the classic shows Newhart and Northern Exposure, extracted the talent of both ensemble casts, and stretched out the running time to that of a feature-length movie, the remaining dregs would be something like Christmas in the Clouds, a film that commits nearly every sin in the storyteller's handbook. From absurd plot contrivances to long stretches of tedium to a predictable resolution, Christmas in the Clouds nails them all.

Here's the premise. Ray Clouds on Fire is the manager of a ski resort owned and operated by an American Indian nation. One day Ray receives a letter informing him that a representative from a famous travel guide will soon be making an anonymous visit to the resort to write a review. Ray sees this as a golden opportunity to build the resort's reputation, so he rallies the quirky resort staff to be on their best behavior during the upcoming week. At the same time, Ray's father, Joe Clouds on Fire, has been corresponding with a young widow from New York, Tina Little Hawk, who has also decided to visit the resort anonymously. Tina wants to meet her pen pal face to face to determine whether or not their connection is real, but without the pressure of a formally planned meeting. The hijinks that follow are built on awesomely improbable mistaken identity scenarios. Suffice it to say that Ray mistakes Tina for the travel writer, Tina mistakes Ray for her pen pal, and a romance sparks between them.

In the spirit of fairness, Christmas in the Clouds deserves credit for its few virtues. Filmed on location at the Sundance Resort in Utah, writer-director Kate Montgomery makes good use of the natural landscape to add texture to the movie's high and low emotional moments. In all, the movie is handsomely shot. And the film's two "big name" stars, the terrific character actors Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves, The Green Mile) and M. Emmet Walsh (The Jerk, Blood Simple, Raising Arizona), both deliver entertaining performances and are worth whatever they were paid. Their turns, Greene as a preening temperamental chef and Walsh as a cantankerous travel writer, actually manage to camouflage the story's weaknesses as long as they're on-screen. However, they aren't even close to enough to carry the day.

Christmas in the Clouds debuted more than four years ago at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. It has since gone on to win numerous awards at other film festivals around the country. But that's where the ride should have ended. Christmas in the Clouds is not a movie the viewing public should pay to see at a local theater. It's the type of independent film that makes you long for the market-tested pleasures of Hollywood.

Editor's Note: The producers are donating 100% of the film's box office profits from the first month of release to California public schools.



Christmas In The Clouds

Facts and Figures

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Friday 2nd December 2005

Budget: $3M

Distributed by: Slowhand Cinema

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Kate Montgomery

Producer: Kate Montgomery, Mitchell Stein, Sarah Wasserman

Starring: Timothy Vahle as Ray Clouds on Fire, as Joe Clouds on Fire, as Earl, as Stu O'Malley

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.