Christmas With the Andersons is a 2016 film written and directed by Michael Feifer who has written and produced many different TV movies, mostly to do with dogs, and starring George Stults (7th Heaven), Christy Romano (Even Stevens), Savannah and Luke Judy, Ion Overman (Port Charles), Julie Brown (Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun), Caia Coley and Barry Livingston (Argo).
In a Christmas flashback, we see Michael Anderson (Stults) rushing his pregnant wife Caroline (Romano) to the hospital in Georgia as she goes into labor. After a brief police chase, twins Brendan and Patty are delivered in the back of their SUV.
Flash forward to the present 10 years later. The scene is set in Beverly Hills for the Anderson’s annual Christmas party. Michael is insulting almost everybody a the party, and Brendan (Luke Judy) is playing video games and only letting the other kids watch. Michael is an attorney and “gives” a nice watch to his co-worker Ray, but says it is for him to look more successful instead of wearing the digital one he normally wears. During the distribution of presents to the guests, they make reference several times to those gathered being the “less fortunate” and this is their way of helping them out. The guests open the gifts and receive lint rollers, toothpaste, toothbrushes, underwear, ear swabs, and other fun gifts. In wishing them farewell at the end of the night, they wish them all hope that next year they will not see them at the party and their lives will improve. Nice.
Meanwhile, Michael gives a key to his wife. A key to what? Well, the next day they drive to a store in a noticeably high-rent area and he shows her the gift – her own store to sell her products. Soap, bubble bath, etc. She is delighted.
We get a glimpse at the family through the next year via holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving until finally, we get the feeling we are leading up to another Christmas gathering. Michael’s aunt Kate (Brown) waltzes into the house and the Andersons are not pleased – they always have a hard time getting rid of her.
We see why Michael is such a good lawyer – he is ruthless. He has no problem counter-suing and getting every last penny out of the people his firm sues. He also has no problem finding any technicality to get their defense clients off no matter how serious the charges. The owner of the firm is his dad (Livingston) who calls Michael into his office. Apparently, at one point Michael and his dad were 50/50 in the firm, but he sold 1 point at some time in the past. His dad fires him saying he has lost his grounding.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, Caroline’s store is failing miserably. They were actually in money problems long before Michael got fired. A woman enters the store, buys something that smells good to put in the bathtub, then sues Caroline for a million dollars for emotional distress because the product is called a “bath bomb.”
In an almost immediate turn of a cheek, Michael goes to talk to the woman after finding out she was fired and her mother recently died. He ends up getting her a job at his dad’s firm and somehow manages to find his Christmas spirit and go from a jerk to a good guy in 20 minutes or less.
They throw another party, this time with homemade decorations and a potluck, and this party ends up meaning more to them than any of their others did before. Michael gets a job with the District Attorney’s office, Gertie drops her lawsuit, and we flash forward to the Andersons rushing to the hospital to deliver another baby, with two police cars in hot pursuit again.
I knew nothing about the film when it began and was prepared for the traditional Christmas-type movie with single parents and bratty kids. Instead, I got bratty parents and bratty kids. All of the actors in the film did an OK job, however, the performances were a little exaggerated. A lot of wide-eye and over-the-top reactions. This was accentuated when Julie Brown shows up in the film who one would expect to play up the comedy.
The beginning of the film where every one of the family was rude to everybody else was frankly unbelievable. Nobody would be that brash as to throw a party then go about insulting everybody present saying they were invited because they are the less fortunate. Luke and Savannah did fine as the spoiled children but really shined when the family was doing good and they were able to act instead of merely perform.
The highlights of the film were the scenes with Barry Livingston as the elder Anderson who portrayed his character with a sense of calm and wisdom opposite Michael’s exuberance and arrogance.
I can’t really say I liked this film, but it wasn’t entirely bad. I would rather watch it again than anything with both “Christmas” and “Princess” in the title, but with so many other options for a good holiday film out there, it is probably best to keep looking. Should you wish to give it a go, you can find it on Hulu or you can rent it on Amazon Prime for $1.99.