DVD Review: A Wonderful Christmas: Feliz Navidad

A Wonderful ChristmasWriters: Michael Baez, Jonisha Rios
Director: Michael Baez
Cast: Jatnna Toribio, Jose Feliciano, Luis Jimenez, Giselle Blondet, Reymond Wittman, Mariana Seoane, Alessandra Ramos
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Lionsgate
Release Date: November 13, 2007

I deliberately postponed my review of A Wonderful Christmas, which is also known by the name Feliz Navidad. I wanted to wait until it was closer until Christmas. I know that the fact that Christmas movies are released as early as September and October these days is an utter turn off. I’m not ready for the season to begin until Thanksgiving is over. It’s best to take it one holiday at a time.

With that in mind, I decided to post my review of A Wonderful Christmas in early December. At this time, nearly everyone is in the Christmas spirit, so this fun, overlooked Christmas comedy is the perfect gift to place in a loved one’s stocking. Even if you aren’t buying this movie for Christmas, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of A Wonderful Christmas. Surprisingly enough, it is my favorite, new Christmas movie to be released. I don’t think I’ve laughed at a movie quite so hard in a long time.

Release Information:
A Wonderful Christmas has been listed as being completed in 2006. However, it wasn’t released on DVD until Lionsgate put it out, on November 13, 2007. A Wonderful Christmas is available at online retailers and may also be available at local retailers such as Walmart and Target. You can purchase this DVD, which comes in a single disc clamshell box. A Wonderful Christmas is available for $17.99 on Amazon. If you cannot find it by the name A Wonderful Christmas, it also goes by the name Feliz Navidad. If you aren’t sure if you have the right DVD, make sure to find out if the DVD you purchase has a case that looks like the one I’ve displayed on this page.

The A Wonderful Christmas Plot
A Wonderful Christmas is a family comedy. Its claim to fame seems to be that it features Jose Feliciano, who created the hit single, ‘Feliz Navidad’. However, I think the film stands well on its own. For whatever reason, I didn’t realize Jose was in this movie until I saw him in it. While it definitely added a funny touch, as he mentions he’s way better at singing ‘Feliz Navidad’ then that Jose Feliciano guy, he doesn’t have a huge role in the movie and without him it’d still be funny anyway.

The story focuses on Josie Rivera (Jatnna Toribio), a young, Hispanic girl growing up in an apartment building in the Bronx. The superintendent aka resident handyman in the building is her father, Martin (Luis Jimenez), and her mother, Luz (Giselle Blondet) is several months pregnant with the third child in the family. Josie is the older sister to Junior (Reymond Wittman), an obnoxious and somewhat troublesome child, who enjoys cooking with his mother. Meanwhile, Josie has been learning the tools of her father’s trade and has become quite the little handywoman.

As Christmas rolls around, Josie has only one thing on her mind, Star Wonder. The television show about a superhero female who kicks a lot of butt is a favorite in the Rivera house by everyone but Luz. Luz sees the tight outfit that shows off every female curve and the glimmer in her husband’s eye when watching Star Wonder. She wants nothing to do with the show and won’t buy Josie the hottest toy of the season, the Star Wonder action figure. Not only is Star Wonder dirty in Luz’s opinion, the toy costs over $100! That’s money the Rivera family just doesn’t have.

Josie’s house is a lively one. They have their own Rooster, which wakes them up. Martin is constantly harassed by the new apartment manager, who threatens to fire him if he does not step up to the task of handling more repairs, and Bootleg Bobby is always willing to stop by to see if the Riveras want to buy any of his pawned or stolen stuff. The Riveras all have their own quirks that add to the excitement of the film. Martin is obsessed with winning the lottery, ever since a friend he had in school did just that. Luz is obsessed with her weight and is very sensitive about everything due to her pregnancy. Junior is willing to put anything in his mouth and/or nose, and Josie is just Josie. She’s the most normal of them all, and that’s not saying much!

When Martin hurts himself after a series of accidents, one of them involving the art of getting to a Christmas tree before another family gets to it first, Josie must step up and help her dad out so he doesn’t lose his job. When Josie finds out that people will tip her for her services, she decides to save up to buy the Star Wonder doll herself. However, what she doesn’t realize is the effect her father not working will have on the family and on Christmas, without the tips her father has relied on for additional monetary support.

Not only does Martin have to deal with finding a place for his winning from playing the Bootleg Lotto (at Bootleg Bobby’s suggestion), he also has to deal with his wife’s relatives this Christmas. One relative is Tio Pepe (Feliciano) who is the life of the party. Of course, winning an ice cream truck really is convenient when you have a wife who is pregnant. On top of that, Josie loses the family Rooster when she takes it to show and tell at school and the neighborhood keeps the family up to date on Rooster sightings throughout the movie.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well A Wonderful Christmas was. The acting was great. The storyline was fun. The movie didn’t look to be as low budget as it probably was. Overall, it was one of those guilty pleasure movies you might not want to admit liking, but deep down you secretly do. It is the realistic aspect of A Wonderful Christmas that stands out. You might just see a little of your own family in this movie and if you do, you can appreciate it all the more.

Storyline/Plot: ★★★★☆
Replayability: ★★★★★
Acting: ★★★★☆
Directing: ★★★★☆

A Wonderful Christmas was transferred at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The video has been anamorphically enhanced, which is impressive considering A Wonderful Christmas was a movie that was a straight to DVD release. The widescreen format is nice though colors are not always vibrant and there is the occasional blur creating a slightly fuzzy picture. Nonetheless, it was much better than I expected it to be.

The audio for A Wonderful Christmas is a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix track.
The sound is great. It’s much better than the video is and it’s great to hear such clear, crisp sound throughout the movie. Since the family is Hispanic, one thing you need to be aware of is the fact that there is both English and Spanish in the movie. The Spanish has easy to read subtitles and is mainly spoken by Luz. There is also closed captioning available on the A Wonderful Christmas DVD for the hearing impaired.

Visual: ★★★☆☆
Audio: ★★★★★

Bonus Features:
The only bonus feature included on the A Wonderful Christmas DVD is a series of deleted scenes. While I was a little disappointed there wasn’t more, the movie is still worth the purchase.

Bonus Features: ★★☆☆☆

Bottom Line:
A Wonderful Christmas was one of those surprisingly good Christmas movies. It has its feel good moments as well as some really funny, comedic hi-jinks. While this may not be the most original Christmas movie out there, I did get that Christmas ‘warm and gooey’ feeling at the end and I’m all the better for owning this as I cannot wait to watch it again before the Christmas season has ended.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

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About the author: Dominick

Dominick Evans is in his second year of the BFA Motion Pictures program at Wright State University. When not studying, making films, or writing papers, he is working to better his on campus community as the Director of Disability Affairs for WSU Student Government. Dominick spends any remaining time working as a writer/editor, playing video games, singing, as an activist in the disability and GLBT communities, and enjoying life with his family.

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