SXSW Review: When Angels Sing


[From March 9th – 17th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2013 in Austin, TX. Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

I hopped into When Angels Sing because I saw that Connie Britton and Harry Connick Jr. were in it and those two people are awesome. I probably should have noticed that the rest of the cast was made up of random singers, both famous and Austion-based. That probably would have clued me into the fact that the movie was in the festival because of it’s local roots and not because of its quality.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily means it’s bad. Plenty of movies are good and local. The film could still work and famous musicians pretending to be actors is sometimes fun. This could still work out, right?

When Angels Sing
Director: Tim McCanlies
Rated: TBD
Release Date: TBD 

One of the worst travesties is film is when a Hallmark Channel holiday special attempts to pass itself off as a legitimate movie. It’s just debasing to the quality of film that one should expect to see on the big screen. When Angels Sing (that title should have given it away) is without a doubt a Hallmark special, and in that I suppose it succeeds in its own schlocky way, but succeeding at that still makes it a bad movie.

The film is a Christmas special. Michael Walker (Harry Connick Jr.) is a good dad and husband, but he hates Christmas because his brother died in a skating accident on that day. His wife, Susan Walker (Connie Britton) and he are looking for a new place to live and magically one day a man named Nick (Willie Nelson) appears and offers him a gorgeous house for an insanely low price. It turns out the house in located on a street in Austin that is known for its incredibly Christmas decorations. Obviously Michael doesn’t want any part of it until a tragic accident forces him to look at the holiday in a different light.

I wanted to write that last sentence just like that so you fully understand how prolific melodramatic this film is. Nick, by the way, is some sort of angel/Santa Claus. Now, I don’t want to seem like some Grinch, simply hating on the movie because its saccharin to the point of bitterness, but there’s a serious lack of subtlety with almost every aspect of it. The emotional cues are more like emotional bludgeons and the directing is so horribly simplistic that it’s forced to rely on some pretty horrible site gags to look even remotely interesting.


Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Flixist. He has worked as a critic for more than a decade, reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and videogames. He will talk your ear off about James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.