The acting was not superlative, but all of the scenarios were very real to me, so each actor worked very well in his or her situation and environment, and were thus pleasing to watch.
The basic story is the unintentional intertwining of two very different families: one, a youngish couple, the wife of which is close to term on their first children, a set of boy twins, the husband of which is a successful and very talented graphic design artist; the second family is a wife with two teenage children, a girl, about 12 or 13, the boy, about 16, very talented in basketball with an uplifting and kind heart. Their situation involves leaving suddenly their home and long time alcoholic dad/husband, and driving to
a far away nice right sized town having to start all over again close to Christmas with school for the kinds and a new job waitressing for the mom.
How the two families become interconnected is subtle and nicely done; it's fun to be the audience, enabled to see how close they skate toward each other, and with what effect. Waitress mom tells her two kids that she's signed them up for the Paper Angel Program (Have any of you heard of this? It sounded like such a good idea!) where, if the child makes a list of desires under his or her name written on the paper angel, it is tied to a Christmas tree, and some one may pick them to commit to purchasing the contents of the list. The children never learn the donor's name, nor does the donor know the child's last name. Someone apparently off scene picks the daughter's name, and the artist/designer picks the teen aged boy's name.
What is most heartening about this movie is how the members of each family not only interact with each other in understanding and as much support as can be generated, but they truly are willing to go through the hardships together, which means not
blaming each other, or staying bitter about the sad things that seem to be happening during a wonderful holiday. Mr. Artist/Designer is actually losing his business, because his largest client cannot, though loving his work, continue with another
contract for the next year. Meanwhile, the Church minister encourages him to get rid of some anxiety by working it off in the basketball court when the team is not there. His Mrs. is doing alright in late term, heeding the doctor's advice to rest a lot and lift her feet and legs, but one month before term, the smaller twin is exhibiting increasing stress symptoms, so she is hospitalized.
Hubby meanwhile has unknowingly picked Thomas, the teenaged boy as his Paper Angel, in addition to getting into basketball
practice together, still without knowing each others' names. They have a good chemistry and communicated easily with one another.
The now single mom is meeting her challenges, especially with two responsible, responsive, and supportive kids. They all talk things over when a major decision must be made. Mrs. Designer's wife is pretty sensible toward and sensitive to her husband's
discomfort at nearly everything but always has a sensitive insight into what's bothering him, and thus keeps him going. He helps her by lovingly doing the cooking and cleaning in addition to his full-time job.
What keeps this story so interesting is how the older boy, really the focus of the tale, is doing
at his new high school. He seems calm, and confident , able to deal with the loneliness, until
he has a run-in with the local jock who reacts defensively and aggressively to this new kid's talent in basketball and posts a defamation on Facebook which went viral in the school.
His solution is to ignore it, which doesn't move much, but he does discuss it with the artist designer shooting hoops in the gym, who advises to listen to his deep feelings inside,
as guide for the best solution that will help as many people as can.
To see how he handles this cyber bully is an inspiring moment and well worth the movie. To return good for evil can be very challenging, but he does it with panache.
I recommend this movie as uplifting and inspiring in a real live context, situations we can all understand.