With so many Christmas movies, it’s hard to imagine there could be room left for a new way of telling a family Christmas story. However, with “Angels Sing,” a new holiday drama based in Texas, classic holiday fare is beautifully mixed with the sounds of Austin area musicians.
The locally-produced film, adapted from Turk Pipkin’s novel “When Angels Sing,” stars Harry Connick Jr. as Michael Walker. As a boy, Michael was a huge fan of Christmas, just like any other child, but after a tragedy one Christmas morning, his outlook dramatically changed. Since then, his bah humbug attitude relates to all things Christmas. The very thought of peppermint mochas, Christmas trees and holiday lights are enough to drive him to a beach vacation in Mexico rather than another family get together.
The problem is, though his wife Susan (Connie Britton) understands his reasons, she and their son, David (Chandler Canterbury), don’t share in his sentiments. It’s this time of year that David wants nothing more than to be surrounded by his aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents (Kris Kristofferson and Fionnula Flanagan).
To add to the already stressful time of the season, the Walkers are being forced out of their rental home. In the search for a new place, Michael happens across a beautiful home for sale by owner with an unbelievable price tag. The too-good-to-be-true home, being sold by Nick (Willie Nelson) comes with only one condition — the new owners must keep up the neighborhood tradition of holiday decorating. The beautiful home has always been the centerpiece of the festival of lights on Live Oak Lane and Nick will expect no less from the new owners.
Michael, not willing to miss the deal, agrees but has no intention of keeping the tradition. Even with the visits by all of the musically inclined neighbors like Lyle Lovett, The Trishas and Kat Edmondson, the neighborhood pleas aren’t enough to change his mind. His son’s requests are also ignored.
Yet, when his family is faced with yet another tragedy, Michael realizes the impact of his behavior on those around him, especially his son. The example he’s set may be exactly the same one that his son will follow. He sees that maybe there’s something in this holiday tradition that can raise even the weariest spirit.
During a SXSW 2013 interview with producer Elizabeth Avellan, director Tim McCanlies, and actors Harry Connick, Jr. and Chandler Canterbury, it was evident that the magic from making the movie didn’t end with the word “cut!” Friendships were made and the spirit of the holiday lasted on and off the screen. Being part of the film “wasn’t about the Christmas story,” Connick said. “It was just an amazing family story.”
He also mentioned that the idea of working with legends like Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson was definitely a plus. “The coolest thing about this movie is that I got to be around two entirely different groups of people that I love to be around – musicians and actors,” he said. “It’s rare that I get work with both at the same time.”
With its holiday release, now playing at the Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane, “Angels Sing” is filled with a who’s who of Austin area musicians. It will be enjoyed by any Austinite who enjoys their Texas music with a dose of holiday sentiment.
Though, like most holiday movies, it can be a little on the melodramatic side, “Angels Sing” is a welcome addition to the list of Christmas classics you’ll watch again year after year. Willie Nelson singing “Silent Night” and “Amazing Grace” is reason enough to watch the film more than once.
Images were captured at the Ronald McDonald hosted screening that was held at Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter on Nov. 3.