Noelle tells the story of a priest who arrives in a small town with the job of deciding if he should shut down the local parish. The Perfect Holiday is a romantic comedy where a woman longs to find a man who will appreciate her for who she is.

The Lowdown

Christmas – ‘Tis the season for yuletide cheer, lots of presents, drunk uncle Nicky making creepy advances towards your fearful wife and many, many schmaltzy holiday themed movies. Oh what a season it would be if only we could take the people responsible for these derivative, faith pushing, unoriginal Christmas films and place them in an octagon surrounded by a chain length fence and not let them out until only one survives.

Maybe I’ve been reviewing too many UFC DVDs lately.

I felt it would be a great idea to take two very different Christmas movies and throw them in a pool like a pit of piranhas and see if they would eat each other for their own survival.

Noelle is about the worst kind of holiday movie you could imagine. It forces itself on the Christian nation like a grizzly bear and then gnashes its teeth into them like you would not believe. Father Keene arrives in a small fishing village with one purpose. His job is to shut down parishes that are no longer profitable. Keene is a man in need of a miracle, you see. He is best left alone and is one who believes things would be better if not for all the people. What he finds is a priest who steals from the collection plates in order to pay medical bills of his parishioners and a town almost as devoid of sensitivity and caring. He puts on a Christmas pageant in the hopes of turning things around in the town and everyone lives happily ever after. The end.

The Perfect Holiday is a movie much lighter in spirit, but very hard to ever believe in. Nancy (Gabrielle Union) is a mother who only wants one thing for Christmas – a compliment. Okay then. Her estranged husband is a rap star named J-Jizzy (a pretty funny Charlie Murphy). When her daughter Emily tells the department store Santa Claus (Morris Chestnut) what her mommy wants for Christmas, and he sees what she looks like, he decides he will give it to her himself. They then learn the true meaning of Christmas. The end.

Oh wait – Queen Latifa plays an angel or something like that and Terrance Howard is Bah Humbug. God must be smiting the pair for their appearance in this movie and I would not be surprised to see KARMA punishing Howard for his part in bringing this miserable piece of cinema to us in the form of his loss of an Iron based Super Hero costume.

Bah Humbug might win the round as The Perfect Holiday would completely decimate Noelle in the battle of Sunday afternoon specials. Noelle is too sweet and full of saccharine and was made specifically for the faith oriented audience to ever put up a fight. It would turn the other cheek and find Charlie Murphy all over it like a spider monkey.

However, when you look at the films’ deeper meanings, Queen Latifa and Terrance Howard bring a little too much Miracle on 34th Street with an added sprinkle of It’s A Wonderful Life to be too overly original. Noelle is at least more original in its presentation and while the director won an award for his work at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, it seems too cookie cutter in its editing to be anything special.

At the end of the day I would recommend you skip both these films and instead watch a classic like It’s a Wonderful Life, or even better A Christmas Story. You can thank me later.

The Package

Noelle ain’t got Jack Frost in the way of special features. The Perfect Holiday wants to damage my brain with a producer’s commentary track with Mike Elliott. He starts by explaining that opening credits are used to thank the people involved in making the picture. He then goes on to explain what is happening in the movie – while we are watching it. And he always makes sure we understand what is supposed to be funny. The worst part of the commentary track is having to watch the movie a second time. Wish List: The Perfect Holiday in the Making (12:27) is a nice making of featurette with most of the cast and crew involved. Video Diaries: 6 Days on the Set of The Perfect Holiday (15:32) is behind-the-scenes footage of the shooting of the movie over a 6-day period.