"Sweet Christmas Musical for the Holidays"
What You Need To Know:
BUTTONS boasts an impressive cast, including Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, and Robert Picardo. Director Tim Janis doesn’t always effectively use this cast, however. The script is clunky and obvious, but the story’s sweet, charming nature helps offset this. Also, heartwarming content abounds through the whole movie, and beautiful orchestral music underscores much of the action. There’s some cartoonish villainy, which does fit the movie’s overall mood, and brief alcohol use. The whole family will appreciate BUTTONS’ Christian worldview, which promotes faith and prayer.
The holiday season always popularizes a certain kind of movie we call a “Christmas movie”, which is the heartwarming, positive, parable kind. The kind that is always kind of based on the Christmas Carol. The kind that your whole family sits down to watch while it’s snowing outside. The kind that makes parents ensure that their kids understood and accepted the movie’s lesson.
Tim Janis’ new musical BUTTONS is definitely a Christmas movie.
BUTTONS tells the story of two orphans visited by their guardian angels. (Sound like a Christmas movie yet?) Emily is a young girl who desperately needs someone to adopt her. One Christmas Eve, she’s rushed to the hospital with fever. There, her guardian angel (Angela Lansbury) comes to her and tells her the story of Annabelle. Annabelle is a young girl whose parents have just passed away. She’s forced into child labor in a mill by her evil step-aunt (Katie McGrath). When she tries to escape, her guardian angel (Dick Van Dyke) must intervene to save Annabelle.
Emily’s guardian angel has told her Annabelle’s story as a comfort, to convince Emily that guardian angels are real and that prayers (including prayers for a family and a home) do get answered. If you’ve ever seen a Christmas movie, you probably have a guess how the movie ends.
All in all, BUTTONS is a sweet, heartwarming Christmas movie. Director Janis has assembled an impressive cast, including Angela Lansbury, Dick Van Dyke, Robert Redford, Kate Winslet, Katie McGrath, Robert Picardo, and Ioan Gruffudd. With a different script, this cast could really soar. Regrettably, the script is too clunky and choppy for even a great cast to smooth out. Also, Janis’ direction misuses great actors like Picardo and Gruffudd, leaving their performances flat and boring.
However, in the fashion of Christmas movies, BUTTONS is so heartwarming and delightful that a multitude of sins can be forgiven. Despite its poor script and bad direction, BUTTONS will still leave moviegoers smiling. Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury have a lot to do with that. Their portrayal of angels is as wholesome and entertaining as it gets.
There is some alcohol use and general villainy by the “bad guy” characters in the movie, but very little offensive content beyond that. BUTTONS has a great Christian message too. Not only does it strongly proclaim that prayer is effective and answered by God, but it also puts faith as the movie’s central tenet. The question of belief in God’s protection is the main question for the young orphans. And when, in faith, they lean into God’s protection, they are celebrated and rewarded.
The whole family will smile at this charming Christmas movie. BUTTONS plays in theaters Saturday, Dec. 8 as part of a special movie event presented by Fathom Events.