18 January 2015 | twodogsofmercy
A Touching Account of Growing Up
I sought this movie out because it was the sequel to The House Without a Christmas Tree, another movie that I greatly enjoyed. I had hoped that it would equal the quality of the first film, but it actually surpassed it. Like its predecessor, this movie uses a holiday (in this case, Thanksgiving) as a backdrop to the story, but the movie is not about the holiday itself.
From reading the brief plot summary, I had thought this was going to be a typical morality tale, something like "Love your enemies and they'll become your friends and everything will turn out hunky dowry." Although the element of showing kindness toward one's enemies does form the heart of the narrative, the plot is actually more nuanced than that. There is no neat resolution to the characters' problems. Addie, especially, experiences some of the jarring losses that are bound to occur when one is growing up. Although her initiative and iron nerve initially pay off, they are not enough to cushion her from the blows that are to come.
As in the first movie, Mr. Mills is far from understanding Addie's actions--it is kindly Grandma who bridges the gap between the two of them. The movie also occasions many opportunities for adults to reflect on how their behavior affects children. One sees how Addie is greatly affected by all of the adult main characters in the movie. Her father, her grandmother, her teacher, and Mr. Rehnquist all influence her in different ways.
This movie is a great movie for parents to watch with their children. The movie deals with some pretty heavy topics, and children who empathize with Addie's great sadness near the end of the movie will likely have a lot of questions. Although the movie contains nothing grossly inappropriate, children under 5 or 6 are unlikely to get much out of it.
The production values are similar to The House Without a Christmas Tree. This is a made-for-television movie, and was apparently filmed on videotape instead of film. Although it has interspersed action scenes, it is mostly dialog-driven. Unlike its predecessor, this movie makes copious use of authentic rural, outdoor settings.
Overall, seeing this movie makes me wish that the Mills family could have had their own television series. However, whether or not the good writing that we see here could have held up for season after season is a matter open to debate.