Blu-ray Review: Angels Sing

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Yuletide family film Angels Sing is something of a missed opportunity when considering it’s headlining cast of singers. There’s not quite enough music here to justify the film’s title, but Angels Sing is at its best when someone is performing a Christmas song. Any movie starring Harry Connick Jr., Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and Kris Kristofferson should theoretically be bursting at the seams with musical performances, but oddly the filmmakers chose to have Connick almost not sing at all. He leads a brief living room sing-along of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” as does Kristofferson at one point. At least Lovett and Nelson are more properly spotlighted with performance sequences.

Harry Connick, Jr. stars as college professor Michael Walker. His family, including wife Susan (Connie Britton) and ten-year-old son David (Chandler Canterbury), is in the midst of shopping for a new house during the holiday season. Due to the accidental death of his brother, Michael has long been at odds with his father (Kristofferson). Since the boy died at Christmastime many years ago, Michael would just as soon ignore the holidays altogether—and avoid his father.

Angels Sing willie nelson (380x253).jpgMichael soon encounters Nick (Nelson), a kind-hearted man living alone in a huge house that he’s looking to sell. He offers Michael the chance to buy it well below market value under one condition: Michael must promise to maintain the standards of the neighborhood. Jumping at the chance (without so much as consulting his wife), Michael has no idea that the town is Christmas-crazy. Every house tries to put Clark Griswold to shame with their lights and decorations, with the pièce de résistance traditionally being Michael’s newly acquired house. The neighborhood has even been spotlighted by Oprah Winfrey, we’re told.

Angels Sing harry connick jr (187x280).jpgA family tragedy helps finally pull Michael out of his Scrooge-like demeanor, but young David’s involvement in said tragedy has the opposite effect. Now it’s up to Michael to hopefully lift his son’s dour mood and restore the holiday spirit. While it’s far from the worst family-oriented Christmas movie out there, it’s unfortunately lacking in energy, fun, and surprises.

The musical moments are the film’s best. Lyle Lovett (as Michael’s neighbor Griffin) has a nice moment duetting with Kat Edmonson on Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson’s “Christmas Time is Here.” Nelson treats a church congregation to an understated “Amazing Grace.” Country singer Dale Watson cameos as a bar-room singer, performing a couple numbers. But again, don’t look for Connick to perform, even though Nelson’s character Nick leaves a piano in the house as a surprise for the Walker family.

Lionsgate’s Blu-ray offers a nice, crisp 1080p image framed at 1.85:1. Kamal Derkaoui’s workmanlike digital cinematography is well served. Audio is presented as a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that isn’t especially active as far as the surrounds and LFE are concerned, but sounds fine. Production values are overall reminiscent of a made-for-TV movie, so the high def transfer and lossless audio aren’t likely to leave viewers slack-jawed, but there’s no problem with what’s offered.

Angels Sing lovett edmonson (380x254).jpgCuriously, there are no extra features to go with Angels Sing. Connick fans will want to stick around for the end credits, which feature an original new Christmas song (written and performed with Willie Nelson), “When I’m Home.” The Blu-ray includes an UltraViolet digital copy. Visit the film’s official website for further information.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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