“Sometimes life is a box of Christmas lights. You pull them out of the box every year and sometimes they’re all tangled up and knotted and sometimes the lights are broken, but you don’t know which one it is so you don’t know how to fix it. Sometimes life is just a big old mess.”
Daughter Ashlyn Rose and mother Bonnie Rose haven’t performed in concert together for 15 years. But then their manager brings the Roses back together, without their knowledge, and the video of their performance goes viral.
Their label wants them to reunite and put out a three-song EP on Christmas Eve – but can they get past the issues that drove them apart all those years ago? It’s the UPtv movie, “Rock N’ Roll Christmas” (2019), which is also known as “A Christmas Comeback” and “Rock and Roll Christmas”.
Our Review: Rock N’ Roll Christmas
Don’t call it a Christmas comeback. “Rock N’ Roll Christmas” is yet another uninspiring Christmas movie. This one struggled mostly due to the writing and and pacing.
So many Christmas movies fail to have a conflict that moves the story forward. “Rock N’ Roll Christmas” had plenty of conflict between mother Bonnie (Catherine Mary Stewart) and daughter Ashlyn (Beverley Mitchell). While it moved the story forward, it was a painful watch at times.
At times, “Rock N’ Roll Christmas” felt like a festival of women apologizing. The formula was basically: fight, storm out, apologize, repeat – until happy ending.
The writing also failed in simple understanding of how things should work. Most notably:
- The video Riley (Kelaiah Guiel) posts of their performance gets 100,000 views in like 2 minutes? Really?
- So, they don’t finish recording their EP until Christmas Eve Eve – so how in the heck is it all mixed in time, released, or on the radio, let alone a hit?
- Why would you put out a new Christmas single on Christmas Eve? No wonder why record labels are struggling – they make bad business decisions like this! You’ll get one or two days of sales. Then what?
Also, with the Rose women on a deadline, needing to complete their EP, there was certainly a lack of urgency. The timeline just felt off and was yet another distraction.
For instance, Ashlyn and Bonnie would listen to a tune for five seconds, know exactly how to sing the entire song, then record that song perfectly in one take, and then take off for the day, if not several days. Even though they were supposed to record three songs.
Another example of the odd writing: when Ashlyn goes to check out Smith’s (David Pinard) gig, he has a wow moment looking at her and he says she’s beautiful. Nice and all, but she wasn’t dressed up special in any way. Ashlyn was just in her regular everyday clothes. She looked no different from the other times Smith had already seen her.
So the Roses definitely didn’t put the “fun” in dysfunction, as many other Christmastime movies have managed to do much better.
For the most part, the main actors did their best with what they were given – but actors can’t save a bad script. Or make unlikeable characters likable.
As for the rest?
The Nice List
The Sets Looked Nice
“Rock N’ Roll Christmas” sure looked Christmasy. The recording studio, the concert stages, and all the homes were all done up nicely for the holidays. No complaints in the visuals.
Ah, Bret (Michael Dickson). He was the one character we truly liked in “Rock N’ Roll Christmas”. He also had a couple of the best lines:
- “It’s Christmas. Joy tends to lurk in every corner.”
“I’ve loved you for 22 Christmases. Nothing’s going to get in the way of 23.”
The Naughty List
Odd Casting Choices?
So, by the timeline they present, Riley should be at most 14 or 15 years old. She just doesn’t look that young – she looks like a fully grown woman (in fact she is, she is 20 years old).
Also, Smith looks much younger than Ashlyn. While we have no problem with an older woman / younger man scenario, it was a bit confusing as he looked to be closer to Riley’s age than Ashlyn’s. (For the record, she is 38 and he is 30 IRL.)
Light on Christmasy Activities
The heavy emphasis was on the music here. So that didn’t leave time for much else in the way of Christmas traditions or activities.
The only activities we spotted were baking cookies, decorating the tree, and (as you’d probably expect in a movie full of music) caroling.
Ashlyn Is Suddenly Guitar Rich
At the start, money is so much of an issue for Ashlyn, that’s she’s got past due notices and she’s ready to sell her beloved guitar.
By the end, she gives away the guitar to Smith – and somehow manages to afford to give Riley her own guitar as a Christmas present.
Ashlyn gets a late child support check from her ex-husband, sure, but that’s not until Christmas Eve. Somehow Ashlyn has already purchased the new guitar for her daughter.
We Love You, [Insert Town Name Here]
Where are they? Ashlyn and Bonnie mention that they love performing here in our home town. Where is it though? The city looked vaguely familiar, but they never actually say what their hometown is.
When Bonnie and Ashlyn go on stage for their concert at the end, Ashlyn introduces their “next” song.
It was their first song. Oops.
You’ll Fall Asleep…
You might, unless you find arguing families really entertaining.
The WORST List
Rock N’ Roll? Not So Much
The title is kind of misleading. Bonnie and Ashlyn are country singers, so how was this a “rock n’/and roll” Christmas?
During the gratuitous photo shoot scene, everyone gets into a photo. Except for him.
Also, when things get ugly, we thought Smith got a bit too snippy. He should have acted more like Bret.
IMDb has this movie listed as comedy. But this definitely falls into the drama category – there’s not much to laugh at here, unless you find families fighting amusing.
If You Liked “Rock N’ Roll Christmas” You Should Watch
- One Fine Christmas
- Our Christmas Love Song
- Almost Christmas
Rock N’ Roll Christmas Review
If you’re looking for a movie with a lot of Christmas joy, you won’t find much here until the ending, when it seems everything is resolved. It looked Christmasy and the music was fine – but we pretty much felt like Riley most of the way: enough with the fighting!