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(2004), PG [PG*] (1hr 32min)

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
October 27, 2005
76 out of 100

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Christian Long Distance

(This section may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

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(2004), PG [PG*] -- ... trying his best to go on with life as usual ...

Production (US):
Distribution (US): Laufer Film Company
Director(s): William C. Laufer
Producer(s): William C. Laufer, Tiffany Laufer, Nolan D. Laufer, Edward and Sarah Smith, Albert Laufer, John A. Smith
Written by: William C. Laufer
Cinematography/Camera: Tiff Laufer
Music: Mike Petrone, Richard John Baker
Film Editing: Ronen Pestes
Casting: Marcy Ronen
Production Design: Erika Rice
Art Direction: James Renner
Viewed on: Laufer Film DVD, provided by Willowcreek Marketing

Christmas at Maxwell's is a new addition to the holiday films. It is a story about a miracle soothing the horror of a tragedy at Christmas; about restoration by God's grace.

The story opens with introducing us to the plight of the Maxwell's living with a wife and mother of two who is dying of cancer. This film effectively addresses and expresses the full spectrum of personal terrors experienced by the slow death of a family member. This film also effectively shares the joy found in a miracle. It has been a long while since I have seen in more than 1000 films a performance as emotionally powerful as what Andrew May performed near the end of the movie.

Successful wine maker Andrew Austin (Andrew May) is trying his best to go on with life as usual in the face of the impending death of his wife Susie (Jaqueline "Jack" Hourigan). But Andrew becomes increasingly stressed as Susie slides deeper and deeper each day into the jaws of cancer as it nibbles the life out of her.

As seems to be true in many cases of coming death, the victim seems to be the strongest and most patient. Susie is that. Hourigan plays it well. It cannot be easy to make each day of a long story seem a little more horrible than the last, but discounting the efforts of makeup to make Hourigan seem closer to death each day, Hourigan is the reason the portrayal is effective.

Andrew tries to keep Susie's dark future from their kids, Chris and Mary (Charlie May, Julia May), but they begin to see through him and begin to show signs of sharing his stress.

Flashbacks into his past begin to haunt Andrew more frequently. Among them are the horrors of being told Susie has terminal cancer; Lucy from Susie's previous relationship; Karen (Lauren Dowden). Karen is not literally a flashback device of the film making but is rather a "ghost from the past" for Andrew as she reenters his life if only momentarily. After a failed "love of my life" romance of many moons ago, Karen reappears to Andrew in a dance bar where Andrew was seeking comfort from a bottle. Karen wanted to be that comfort.

As if enough troubles were not already heaped on the Maxwells, a social worker calls Andrew asking if he would take a temporary care placement of an old man, a stranger, Gus (Angus May) just for the night. His last name was Carpenter. He was quiet. He was great with the kids. Gus was sometimes sharp with Andrew who was always in doubt whether taking in a guest with his wife dying was a good idea [Heb. 13:2]. Indeed, Susie is the one who convinced Andrew to take in old Gus. This was on Christmas Eve, December 24. But Gus died on December 22! I will not explain this intricate subplot of the story any further should you opt to see it for yourself.

In fact, I have already spoiled too much of the well-stitched fabric of plot and subplots though I have touched only a few. Let me move into what we do best -- revealing the content which might be of interest to you as parents/grandparents you decide whether this film is fit for the kids.

In this story of courage, strength, faith and forgiveness there are three uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Prov. 22:11], adulterous attempts by Karen [Hebr. 13:4], inappropriate touch as May touches Hourigan's clothed right breast [1 Cor. 7:1-2] and, which would seem likely in a film about a wine maker, quite a bit of presentation of alcoholic beverages, a bar and drinking. While it is certainly not sinful to drink wine in moderation it is most certainly sinful to get drunk whether on wine, beer or hard liquor. And when a film labeled by the MPAA as acceptable for the young teen and preteen presents alcoholic beverages and consumption of them, there is a chance the child will be emboldened by such display. This has been proven by the American College of Physicians [Eph. 5:18]. In addition, God's name is used in vain several times [Deut. 5:11]. While desperation might break down moral obedience, desperation does not excuse sin.

Please inspect the listing of observations in the Findings/Scoring section of this report -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- before deciding for what age stratum in your family this film might be fit.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Heb. 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
  • Prov. 22:11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
  • Hebr. 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure [which includes before marriage AND extramarital], for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. [...whether we believe it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care or not.]
  • 1 Cor. 7:1-2 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. ["Not to touch..." God was wise to rationalizations of man. Touch: haptomai {hap'-tom-ahee} <688>; to touch; of carnal intercourse with a woman; cohabitation. So, by God's Word, touching is either literal touching in a sexual sense or intercourse, or living together with sexual activities. Though Andrew Austin and Susie Austin were married in the film, Andrew May and Jack Hourigan were not.]
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. ["Wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. This issue is do not get drunk. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk or to drink in defiance. A study by the American College of Physicians (ACP) has found an undeniable link between the presentation of alcoholic beverages and tobacco in and as entertainment and abuse of them by adolescents. And teaching/causing youth to abuse alcohol/tobacco (or drugs) by emboldening youth with them in and as entertainment invokes Luke 17:2]
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name.]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it].
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among you], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. ["Offend": skandalizo - to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away. "Little ones": mikros - little;, small of age; younger which can include at-home teens].
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary/
    Commentary section.

    Christmas at Maxwell's (2004) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • portrayal of dying from cancer throughout
  • images of animated argument with throwing things, repeatedly
  • nightmare demon-like images
  • fall with injury to a child

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • three uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • child exaggerating extent of an assault to gain sympathy and worsen the assault
  • child mischief against adult authority
  • child showing disrespect for police
  • children ignoring father
  • insisting on abortion
  • deceiving husband
  • lying to children, repeatedly

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • man and woman in bed together
  • pregnancy by immoral sex
  • inappropriate touch

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • bar
  • alcoholic beverage, repeatedly
  • seeking comfort through alcohol
  • priest buying alcoholic beverage

    Offense to God (O)
  • six uses of God's name in vain, all without the four letter expletive
  • attempted adultery

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted

  • Christian Educators Association International



    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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