Movie Review: The Least of These

Movie Review: The Least of These

John FarrellBy John Farrell6 Minutes

  • The Housing and Urban Development found 549,928 individuals to be homeless on a single night in January 2016.
  • 65% of homeless persons are individuals, while 35% of homeless persons are in family households.
  • 31% of all homeless people were youths under the age of 24.
  • Close to 40,000 veterans were homeless with 66% of them residing in shelters or transitional housing programs.
  • California (22%), New York (16%), Florida (6%), Texas (4%) and Washington (4%) account for more than half of the homeless population in the US.
  • Contributing factors to homelessness: lack of affordable housing, poverty caused by unemployment and/or decline in available public assistance, lack of affordable health care, domestic violence, mental illness, and addiction.

*Stats provided by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the Housing and Urban Development.

For Rose Phelps (Tayla Lynn — Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter) and her seven-year-old daughter, Katy Elizabeth Yates (Emma Faith), life hasn’t been easy. Rose is a waitress at Jack’s O’Houlihans, a small diner in Tennessee. When Rose is not working, the mother-daughter duo live in their car, which also serves as an art studio.

Rose is trying to provide the best possible life for her daughter and raise her right, but it’s hard to be a single mother on a waitress’ meager wages. Rose and Katy manage to make the best of their situation even if that means improvising some of the most basic daily routines that many of us may take for granted: brushing teeth, washing hair, and doing laundry.

Everything begins to change when a Salvation Army Santa Claus (G. Michael Nicolosi) sits down at one of Rose’s tables in the diner and strikes up a conversation with the mature-for-her-age Katy. Instead of mailing her letter to Santa this year, Katy decides to give it to him in person, especially since he’s at the diner.

Katy’s list is rather short as it’s not so much a list as it is a drawing. The drawing is of her and her mom alongside a house and a father/husband.

Charlie, who is the Salvation Army Santa, is struggling internally with whether or not he is still cut out to be Santa after fourteen years of ringing the Salvation Army bell and playing the part at different events. It’s just too painful to see and hear about all of the hurt that is out there in the world.

Fortunately, Charlie has an epiphany regarding Saint Nick’s purpose: Santa “spreads Christmas cheer,” “brings joy and laughter to the kids,” “triggers the most incredible childhood Christmas memories in adults,” and has a face that stops tears. But most importantly for him and his new  friend from the diner, Santa is “a man put on this earth for a little girl to believe in when she’s got nothing else going on.”

Shortly thereafter, the storefront Santa returns to the diner where he has breakfast with Katy, who asks him about what warrants a kid getting their name on the bad list. Santa replies, “Katy, you’ve never been on the bad list.” In response, Katy rips at your heartstrings: “Then, why haven’t you ever brought me anything?”

Santa reminds her that his ultimate gift is all the joy and happy thoughts he provides her during the Christmas season to which she quips, “Would you mind bringing me a toy this year?”

It’s tough for Rose who is scrimping and saving every dollar she earns to one day be able to afford an apartment. In addition to waiting tables, Rose is a very talented artist with many of her pieces for sale in the diner. Fortunately, there is a wealthy art collector who is willing to pay several hundred dollars for each piece.

Although Rose and Katy are struggling to make ends meet, Katy’s faith is inspiring and her heart is large. One night before going to sleep in their car, she prays, “What we do to the least of these we do to You. Lord, who are the least of these? Show me so that I can do something for You.”

Does Santa give Katy the two things she asked for Christmas? Is Rose finally able to afford a place to live? Do Rose and Katy have a merry Christmas?

For answers to these questions and more, you’ll need to watch this touching film about love, forgiveness, and helping others. The film also reminds us that there are people without roofs over their heads or food on their table and that it is our obligation as Christians to help those who are less fortunate, not only during the Christmas season but all year.

To learn more about The Least of These and its upcoming airtimes on Inspiration TV click here