Rated PG | Time: 1:27
By ROGER MOORE
An all-star cast of singers become actors for Angels Sing, a wan little holiday film that manages to show a little heart once it finally gets going.
Harry Connick Jr. stars as an Austin, Texas, history professor who doesnt put much stock in Christmas. Michael is always angling to dodge doing both Thanksgiving and Christmas with his parents (Kris Kristofferson, Fionnula Flanagan) for reasons hes reluctant to tell his granny-loving son (Chandler Canterbury). His wife (Connie Britton) is understanding. Eventually, the kid finds out Dad lost a brother over the holidays, years ago. Kind of ruined the day for him.
But Michaels ongoing house-hunting throws him in the path of this chuckling old man (Willie Nelson) with a McMansion for sale.
How much, Mr. uuhhhh?
Call me Nick.
They seal the deal, and Michael finds himself with the showplace of Live Oak Lane, one of those Christmas-crazed corners of America where house decorations draw fans from far and wide. Neighbors stop by, sing a song on their stoop and drop off decorations. To be helpful, you see.
Theres a jazzy sax solo of this Christmas carol, and gospel take on that one. Darned if Lyle Lovett doesnt play one particularly pushy neighbor who favors us with his version of Jingle Bells.
Is everyone in this neighborhood a musician? Michael cracks.
Only he doesnt crack. Hes a regular Grinch, fending off every appeal that he join in the fun. Heck, neighbor Griffin (Lovett) points out, even the Jewish family and the Muslim one decorated their houses. Why not you?
This might have been a lighter, faith-based Christmas With the Kranks, with the family trying to resist the holiday spirit in a part of the world where thats impossible, or a Deck the Halls, with Michael amusingly being swallowed by the holidays. To that end, director Tim McCanlies (the sentimental Secondhand Lions was his) peppers this world with bar singers and buskers, everybody belting out a little taste of Christmas.
But the humor is thin and the players many of whom have had their funny moments over the years cannot find a laugh or even a smile in much of this. Connicks character is a stiff, and Nelsons twinkle is muted.
The treat is hearing Willie Nelsons Nick sing Silent Night or Amazing Grace, in imagining Lyle Lovett as a Christmas addict and jazzing up Jingle Bells.
Angels Sing takes a while to throw a reindeer in front of Michael and suggest theres holiday magic afoot, and a much longer while to get to its point, with Nick and others nudging Michael to open his heart to the holiday.
Its only 87 minutes long, but the pace makes this feel like the day after Thanksgiving as if Christmas will never get here.
(At the Barrywoods.)
| Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune