The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
by Phil Boatwright

Released on DVD October 23 from Genius Products, the holiday-themed drama stars Tom Berenger (Platoon, the Big Chill), Joely Richardson (The Parent Trap, Nip/Tuck), and introducing youngster Luke Ward-Wilkinson. The story centers on a mysterious recluse who also happens to be the best wood carver in the valley. Slowly the woodcutter finds his world transformed by a young boy and his mother who have asked him to carve a yuletide scene.

When the boy loses a treasured wooden nativity set that links him to his dead father, his worried mother persuades Jonathan to create a replacement and allow her son to watch him work on it. Soon the boy makes greater demands of the woodcarver’s ability, and as Christmas approaches, the three struggle to come to terms with painful memories of lose and the process of putting their unhappiness behind them.

Mr. Berenger gives dimension to his role and the technical and artistic merits each blend together to give families an uplifting night at the movies. With positive messages, including a respect for God and Christ (prayers are spoken, church is attended and the main characters acknowledge the birth of Christ), and engaging performances, it is one of the best seasonal films I’ve seen in a while. (I watched it twice.)

Stars: Tom Berenger, Joely Richardson. Genius Products. Based on the bestselling children’s book by Susan Wojciechowski. Directed by Bill Clark. Not rated, I found nothing objectionable. 91 minutes. Genre: Faith & Family.