“This was easy,” Tony Romo was saying last night. “I love movies. I love Christmas. I love Jesus.” The Dallas Cowboys quarterback was explaining why he’d shown up at West Plano’s Cinemark Theater, where a new movie called The Christmas Candle was being premiered. The feature flick is the first national release from a Dallas outfit called EchoLight Studios, a Christian production company whose CEO is Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.
The film, set in England in 1890, is scheduled to open Nov. 22 in at least 400 screens nationwide. Santorum, who was also at the Cinemark, said EchoLight’s hoping to bank at least $2 million on opening weekend, which would be like “hitting a home run.” Welcoming the packed house before the screening, the former Republican presidential candidate said, “For the first 1,900 years since the birth of Christ, all great art was made by or for the church. It’s only in the last 100 years that we’ve abandoned the field. … The consequences [of that] are being seen throughout our society in the destruction of the very values that we believe in.”
If Santorum’s aiming to stem the destruction with The Christmas Candle, however, his prospects aren’t great. While the film’s aim is earnest and its production values are excellent, the story is plodding and confusing. The cast does include some big names, including The Mummy’s John Hannah and the Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle, in her feature-film debut. (Boyle proves that, as an actor, she is a very good singer.)