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on December 15, 2001
Based on the children's novel by Barbara Robinson, with teleplay by the author of the book (hurray!), this video remains true to the book by the same name. A local church is doing the Christmas pageant for Christmas, and the family of 6 unsupervised, undisciplined children decide to get involved. They bully the other children so that they will get the main roles. Everyone is worried that this will be the WORST Christmas Pageant because the Herdmans are involved. The mother, played by Loretta Swit (MASH), shows patience and diligence, with unending hope that the whole thing will have a great ending. Despite the fact that I've been reading this book aloud to my elementary school students for years, I ended up in tears during the scene where Imogene discovers what Mary is all about. Definitely, OWN this video if you love what Christmas is really about!
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on August 21, 2003
The Herdmans are the worst kids ever! They cuss, they smoke, they torture animals and people. AND they want to be in the church Christmas pageant, even though they have never heard the story of Christmas. This movie truly captures the true meaning of Christmas. See Faruza Baulk as a little girl as she narrates the story. I highly recommend reading the book first. It's a fast and easy read. It makes the movie SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE.
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on October 18, 2007
When I was in the third grade my teacher, Ms. Curtis, read this book to our class. I completely fell in love with the story and the characters. A few years later, around the Christmas season, this movie was on tv. It follows the book very closely. It has such a good message regarding tollerance of others. The real lesson in this movie is learned by the mom(played by Loretta Swit). I bought this dvd for my parents, myself, and my in-laws a few years ago. We have all made it a tradition that when things get to crazed and we seem to loose our Christmas spirit,in the process of creating "the perfect Christmas", we pop in this DVD and get a good reminder of the most important part to the season. I cannot wait until my three are old enough to really enjoy this movie and understand the message behind it. I highly recommend this DVD to someone of any age.
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on December 5, 2005
One of the great Christmas movies. The Herdman's really can teach you the true meaning of Christmas. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!!
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on January 24, 2010
As a teacher, I had read this story to my classes for years. I had recorded the tv version of it on VHS years ago, but I was looking for a DVD copy of it, and when this popped up, I just knew it was exactly what I wanted. And it is! Great story, great movie, great DVD. Thanks!
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on February 1, 2009
This made for TV movie based on the book by Barbara Robinson does not feature the best actors or technical credits. In fact, some of the actors appear to be amateurs and the film, shot in Canada, was probably done on a barebones budget. But if you are the kind of viewer that can look beyond these shortcomings and you would enjoy a Christmas themed film with a deeper message than most of the typical irreligious holiday fare, then you may appreciate this movie. Second, because the story is set in a time significantly different from our own (although not that long ago), it provides some thought-provoking commentary on where we are headed as a society.

The story is a cheerful comedy about the annual Christmas program at a typical small town/small-city church. The most feared family of young troublemakers in the community, the six Herdman siblings, take it into their heads to start attending Sunday School because of the free food. As a result, they hear about the upcoming Christmas pageant and decide they want all the major roles--Mary, Joseph, the three Wise Men and the lead angel. The other children are so frightened of them that they don't try for these parts themselves, leaving the lead roles to the Herdmans. The Herdmans turn out to be completely ignorant of the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus. Their ignorance of the Bible and their rough ways make everyone in the church fear that the pageant will be a riotous failure. But the Herdmans hear the Christmas story with fresh ears and open hearts, transforming the routine and humdrum Christmas pageant in the process.

There is a profound and very old truth at the heart of this story--that it is often the social outcasts and misfits who best appreciate the coming of Jesus that is celebrated at Christmas. They are the ones who recognize their need for a Savior, as they are not self-satisfied and complacent because of their abilities, achievements, wealth, education and activities. Everyone except for the Herdmans are too familiar with the Christmas story, to the point that they miss its real meaning. But because the Herdmans catch a glimpse of the real wonder and power of the birth of Jesus, the Christmas pageant is transformed for the entire church.

My daughter was in a children's theater production of this drama. Many of the children in her play were like the Herdmans in one regard---they were not familiar with the basic Bible stories, including the Nativity. What has changed since this story was written is that it has become the norm for families to not attend church and to raise their families in complete ignorance of the Bible, whether as a religious text or simply one of the great foundational writings of human history. This development makes the story dated in that less viewers appreciate, let alone understand, the contrast between the Herdmans and their neighbors. Skipping the obvious question of what Biblical illiteracy means for our society, I am at least comforted by the record of the Herdmans. Perhaps more people in our day will hear the Christmas story with honest interest and open ears, considering whether or not the baby Jesus came into this world for their benefit.
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on December 14, 2006
I was more than a little surprised when I discovered that there had been a film version of Barbara Robinson's beloved short story AND that (even more surprising to me) the only attempt to bring it to film was made 20 years ago...this year.

Since I have always loved the book (and make a point to read the story every Christmas), I put my $20 down on the cyber counter...without thinking...and purchased a copy. The DVD arrived in the mail today and as soon as I possibly could, I sat down to watch it...

Hmmmm...what can I say? Yes...I know...the movie was made in the 80's, and for television no less. BUT even with that in mind, I was still a little dissappointed with the production.

I agree with other reviewers that the acting was for the most part, quite excellent...but first rate performances were not enough to offset the second rate quality of the film itself, which had a faded, almost murky feel so common with television shows in the 80s (as I watched, I swear to you, images of "Little House on The Prairie" kept flashing before my eyes)...

Would I have purchased the DVD if I had known what I was going to see? The answer is: NO...I wouldn't have. Perhaps it's true that some stories just can't be translated to the screen. Or maybe, more true to the point, it's just that most people do not love this story as much as I do, and therefore are not interested in putting some real money behind it (and give it the production it deserves)...

We have a ka-zillion film and stage versions of "A Christmas Carol" out there...will someone please make JUST ONE more adaptation of this not-as-popular holiday classic...a film version that I can truly give five stars for...

FIVE STARS because to date, it's the only adaptation on Barbara Robinson's book, MINUS TWO STARS because the film production was so unworthy of such a great story...
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on March 9, 2014
--hard to be jaded or commercialistic about Christmas with this beautiful (and hilarious) recreation of the birth of baby Jesus. We've been using an old video tape, and were thrilled to find that Amazon offers the production on DVD. The story line reminds viewers what Christmas truly is in a deeply touching way while also providing great entertainment and even some laughter. I highly recommend this to grandparents, parents and kids
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on January 7, 2014
Good family viewing but needs some direction near the end.... However, this is where discussion can come into play for everyone's interpretation. There is a teacher's guide to this movie which I purchased which would be a nice help for your kids or if you have a Christian children's group. I highly recommend this little movie...only about an hour long. We had a Christmas pageant at our church this year and it would have been a hoot to let the participants see this.
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on January 1, 2015
This has been my favorite Christmas story since Mrs Bell read it to my 5th grade class. The movie is in keeping to the story Barbara Robinson wrote and stars Loretta Switt, a personal favorite of mine. It's a quick watch and a beautiful reminder of what the first Christmas truly was.

The story tells of the intersection of the Herdmann kids with a group of classmates who are active in the local church. Wild, supported by welfare and without supervision, the Herdmann's stumble into church and the annual Christmas pageant. In the starring roles with no understanding of story of Christmas, the Herdmann's learn about the true meaning of the season while teaching an entire community what that first Christmas probably was like.

Hey, unto you a child is born. Shazam!
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