Film Review: A Christmas Memory

A Christmas MemoryA Christmas Memory is a Hallmark movie that first aired on television on December 21, 1997. It is based on a story by Truman Capote about a time in his life. The film stars Patty Duke, Piper Laurie, Jeffrey DeMunn, Anita Gillette, Julia McIlvaine, Esther Scott, and Eric Lloyd. It was directed by Glenn Jordan, a director of many TV movies of the 1970s-1990s and was adopted by Duane Poole.

We start out by meeting young Buddy (Eric Lloyd) as he is flying a homemade kite. The kite gets stuck near a drinking establishment called “HaHa’s” and Buddy is too scared to retrieve the kite. He runs back to his home where we learn his aunt Sook (Patty Duke) is starting to feel like it is “fruitcake weather.” Buddy agrees, saying some of the other kids are starting to wear shoes so it must be getting colder. Throughout this introduction, we find out his mom and dad are divorced and his mom is a New York actress who has sent him to the South two years ago to live with his aunts and uncle. Buddy and Sook are very close and the two break out all their savings to go to town and purchase what they need to make their annual fruitcakes.

Meanwhile, a neighbor girl keeps bugging Buddy with her exaggerated stories including the governor going to her house for dinner. Buddy calls her out and the two get into a skirmish and are pulled apart by Sook. One of the sisters doesn’t think Buddy spending all the time with Sook is a good thing and starts to hatch a plan to enroll Buddy in a military academy to toughen him up.

Once all the fruitcakes are made, Sook and Buddy deliver them one-by-one on foot, even mailing some to the governor, President and Mrs. Roosevelt, and film star Jean Harlowe. We follow their adventures together until Sook makes a mistake by splitting the remaining whiskey with Buddy (and his dog) and the sisters contend this is the last straw and fully make plans to send Buddy away. At the end of the film, Sook takes Buddy to the bus station where he boards the bus and departs with both of them crying as an adult Buddy ends the film.

This is another one of those films where I have to give a disclaimer. During my first time in Hollywood, I actually worked with Eric Lloyd but had never seen the film until this review. Viewers of the film probably know that Eric went on to do another more popular Christmas film, or two, when he played Charlie in The Santa Clause films with Tim Allen. Lloyd does a good job opposite a very over-the-top Patty Duke portraying the somewhat senile and not-to-bright Sook, but the southern accent gets lost in several places. The other sisters in the film are not very memorable, save Piper Laurie who plays Jennie. Jeffrey DeMunn is left to pretty much sitting in a chair and acting sick the entire film.

One has to give this film a little benefit of the doubt since it is a Hallmark movie and not a big-budget feature, however, the film moves at a snail’s pace and is really just a collection of vignettes rather than a cohesive story. The writing is was based on has been adapted into a play that is popular as well. All in all, I really wouldn’t recommend this film for audiences under the age of 70 years old or so. There just isn’t that much in the film to hold interest.

You can find A Christmas Memory on TubiTV and on Amazon Prime video.

  • A Christmas Memory

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