Welcome to day two of the Christmas in July Blogathon 2020! Today we welcome Sally from 18 Cinema Lane. She reviews all kinds of movies on her blog and she participates in all kinds of blogathons. Go give her site a look, I’m sure you’re bound to find something you like. For her second Christmas in July go-round, she is reviewing something a little different than the Hallmark films she usually reviews: the final film in the Little House on the Prairie series.
Last year, I participated in Drew’s Movie Reviews’ Christmas in July Blogathon for the first time. My submission was about the Hallmark film, Christmas Camp. Unfortunately, the film was not as good as I had hoped it would be. For this year’s Christmas in July Blogathon, I already had my film selected before the event was officially announced. But this time, I decided to step away from Hallmark and expand my cinematic horizons. Recently, UP Network aired Little House: Bless All the Dear Children. Since I hadn’t seen this movie before, but had seen the show on multiple occasions, I chose this film for the Blogathon! Little House on the Prairie is a show that my family has enjoyed watching. In fact, I’ve talked about my favorite episode, “The Wild Boy” Part 1 and 2, in the editorial, “Bucky Barnes and Matthew Rogers: Paralleling Stories of Disability”. After the show ended in March of 1983, the creative team behind Little House on the Prairie created three films to tie up loose ends and give beloved characters a proper send-off. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children was the last of these three to be released.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Throughout the show’s lifespan, Little House on the Prairie was blessed to receive a strong starring cast. Even as actors came and went, the quality in acting never faltered. Most of the main actors from the show also appear in Little House: Bless All the Dear Children. Because of this, the consistency in the acting quality was maintained. The regular actors from the show appeared comfortable in their roles. It was also nice to see familiar faces and fan favorites. While I enjoyed watching the performances from the main cast, there were two performances from newcomers of the show that I found to be the most memorable. The first one came from Patricia Pearcy. In the movie, she portrayed Elsa, a mother who is mourning the loss of her baby. What I liked about her performance was the emotional range that was found. Toward the beginning of the film, Elsa learns about the fate of her child. This ends up being one of the most powerful scenes, as Patricia brings the emotional weight a moment like that requires. The second performance was Joel Graves’. He portrayed Samuel, a young orphan from Mankato. Anytime he was on screen, Joel had a sweet personality, which gave his character a likable persona. Samuel brought so much joy to the story, as he was an adorable and kind-hearted child.
The messages and themes: Within their nine seasons, Little House on the Prairie has incorporated important messages and themes into their episodes. These messages and themes have come in various forms, from exploring the horrors of child abuse in “The Wild Boy” Part 1 and 2 to showcasing the value of human life in “Times Are Changing” Part 1 and 2. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children also contains messages and themes that not only fit in the context of the series, but also in the context of Christmas. When Mr. Edwards asks Mr. Montague if he’d like any Christmas presents, Mr. Montague declines this offer, as he feels that Christmas has become materialistic. The idea of the commercialization of Christmas is just as relevant today as it was in 1984, the year this film was released. It also reminds the audience of the holiday’s original purpose.
The humor: Even though there are moments on the show where serious situations take place, Little House on the Prairie also contains moments of joy and laughter. The humor on this program is both wholesome and well-written. It is not only consistent on the show, but it also finds a place in Little House: Bless All the Dear Children. During the Christmas season, Nancy is responsible for finding the perfect Christmas tree for her family. She eventually locates one in the front yard of her family’s property. The hilarious part of this situation is that Nancy chooses the tallest tree she can find, causing the tree to crash through a window into her family’s living room! This moment reminded me of when Stephanie, from Full House, crashed a car through her family’s kitchen because she thought the “R” on the car’s control pad meant “radio” instead of “reverse”.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Christmas spirit’s inconsistency: In most Christmas films, the spirit of Christmas can be felt throughout the story. In fact, there are times when it radiates off the screen. With Little House: Bless All the Dear Children, however, the Christmas spirit doesn’t feel consistent in the overall story. Some parts of the movie contained a strong sense of this spirit, like the narrative involving Jason trying to spread Christmas cheer. But Christmas spirit felt like an after-thought in the majority of the main plot, where Mr. Edwards, Almanzo, and Laura search for Rose. This made the narrative seem like it could have taken place in any time of year without making much of a difference.
Too many narratives: Little House: Bless All the Dear Children featured a total of six narratives. I understand that an end-of-series movie is meant to tie up story-related loose ends. But because of the screen-writer’s decision to squeeze as many sub-plots into the film as possible, it caused some of the narratives to feel under-developed or there for the sake of being there. A good example is Mr. Montague’s narrative, where it revolved around his views on Christmas. While it wasn’t a bad idea for a sub-plot, it didn’t really lead anywhere. Another example is Nancy’s narrative, where she is put in charge of picking out the Oleson family Christmas tree. Like Mr. Montague’s sub-plot, it didn’t lead anywhere. It also didn’t do any favors for Nancy’s character development or serve the overall story. If anything, it seems like she received her own narrative because she had appeared on the show for two seasons.
A quick and easy resolution: The main conflict in Little House: Bless All the Dear Children has been featured on the show before. In the season four episode, “My Ellen”, Laura gets kidnapped by her grieving neighbor shortly after their daughter passes away. Personally, I think the situation was dealt with better in that episode than in this Christmas movie. During her escape in the aforementioned episode, Laura leads her neighbor to their daughter’s grave to help them face their grief and realize the reality of the situation. In Little House: Bless All the Dear Children, Elsa’s grief and the seriousness of Rose’s kidnapping are glossed over when the conflict is resolved. I know that whenever a conflict arises on Little House on the Prairie, it is dealt with in a wholesome way. But it seemed like the situation was handled as easily and quickly as possible just to move on to the next narrative. I was also surprised that Laura didn’t disclose her kidnapping in relation to her daughter’s predicament. Had she brought up this past experience, it would have promoted the show’s continuity and helped Elsa face her grief.
My overall impression:
Little House on the Prairie is a show that has stood the test of time. Its wholesome programming, relatable messages, and memorable characters have won over the hearts of fans for decades. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children is an example of why people have fallen in love with this show. The consistency in acting and the lessons instilled on the audience help keep the tone of the show intact. Even though the movie had its strengths, I feel this particular story would have benefitted as a two-part episode. Smaller narratives, like Mr. Montague’s perspective on Christmas, could have been taken care of in one episode. The story of Rose’s kidnapping would have been the overarching narrative of both episodes. This choice would have also given the creative team more time to explore Elsa’s grief and reach a satisfying resolution to the episodes’ main conflict. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children is a fine and enjoyable film. Personally, I would have loved to see Matthew Rogers perform “O Holy Night” in sign language during Christmas Mass. But I guess we can’t always get what we want.
Now we’ve come to the part of this review where I select a guest for Drew’s Christmas Party. This year, I have selected Anjanette Abayari. I first became aware of her existence when I watched the music video for the Timmy T. song “One More Try”. I haven’t seen her other acting work and I don’t know much about her. But, based on what I read, it seems like she has experienced some serious situations in her life. The reason why I chose Anjanette for Drew’s Christmas Party is so she can, hopefully, receive more recognition than she may be currently receiving!
Overall score: 7.4 out of 10
Have you watched Little House on the Prairie? If so, what is your favorite episode? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
Thank you for joining in the Blogathon, Sally! I think we can call you a regular now. 😉
The blogathon continues tomorrow with the movie blogosphere’s poet blogger with a review of a non-traditional Christmas film. So come on back and check that out.
Until next time, cheers!