Another Christmas, another movie about a prematurely deceased person returning to earth as an angel to patch things up. How does this compare with the others? Well, Ion Network’s How Sarah Got Her Wings might not become a perennial classic, but it tries to make the ride as enjoyable as it can. Its religious, feel good message will definitely hit a note with some audiences but it’s also amusing enough to entertain those who aren’t too cynical about these types of movies and who happen to roped in to watching it with someone else.
Sarah (Lindsey Gort) is of course the unlucky person to find herself in the predicament of needing her angel wings. It’s Christmas Eve in Oregon (kudos, Ion, for a change of setting), and the real estate agent and do-gooder is volunteering at her church when she tries to help a man find his dog. Before you can say, “It’s not a good idea to crawl under cars that are parked on the street when it’s nighttime,” she gets hit by a bus and finds herself in, well, she’s not sure where. The theology is shaky here, depending on what you believe, but the afterlife/purgatory is a pretty sleek, chic place, the heavenly equivalent to a fancypants restaurant. Pretend you’ve made a reservation here and you’re waiting outside in “the Lobby” where really attractive people serve you really delicious hor d’oeuvres.
Being the faithful, church-loving girl that she is, Sarah isn’t exactly bummed that she’s dead but she is worked up over the fact that she’s not on the list to actually get into heaven. She can’t figure out why and recites with some pride a litany of her good deeds. Management is strict up there though, and Daphne (Kathleen Rose Perkins), the gatekeeper, sends her back down to earth to figure out what she still needs to do to be worthy of eternal life.
The religious roots of this movie come through. Sarah is visible to her ex-boyfriend, Jordan (Derek Theler), and his current girlfriend, Amanda (Melanie Liburd), and despite their initial shock, they just take it on fact that angels exist and boy, can they do great and wonderful things. That’s what Sarah attempts but with little luck. She tries to repair past hurts and broken relationships. She tries to give Jordan a career boost. Nothing seems to work as planned though, and Sarah’s afraid if she can’t complete her mission by Christmas, she’ll spend eternity on a dingy bench with the other unworthies.
Gort gets a lot of credit for livening up the proceedings. This movie could easily be another dry, sappy redemption story, and it is in many regards, but Gort’s comic timing makes it more enjoyable. She also reminds me of Tina Fey’s younger blonde sister. Meanwhile, Chris Pratt’s younger brother, Theler, doesn’t quite match up. He gets a few laughs too, but it’s harder to warm to him since he doesn’t share much chemistry with his costars. But you know what, I’m going to forgive all that because this movie is getting all the points for featuring solid supporting roles for people of color. Not only is Amanda a black woman, thus giving us a rare interracial couple in these holiday TV romances, she has a whippersnapper of a son (Caleel Harris), who is smart, thoughtful, and a hockey player. It’s just the way things sometimes are in real life. See, there is hope this Christmas.
Alt Title: A Mission for Christmas
Dir: Edmund Entin, Gary Entin
Writer: Damon Hill
Cast: Lindsey Gort, Derek Theler, Melanie Liburd, Jeremy Luke, Caleel Harris, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Charles Robinson
Time: 88 min
Country: United States