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Ralph E. Portillo
The Christmas Bunny is the story of a Michigan family, facing tough economic times, who take in a withdrawn foster child, Julia (Sophie Bolen). Convinced she's unlovable, Julia dreams of becoming "real," like the Velveteen Rabbit in her treasured storybook video. When a real-life rabbit is injured by her foster brother in an accident, Julia meets the Bunny Lady, a local recluse who cares for people's cast-away pets, and both their lives are changed by the encounter.Written by
"Rumple", the diminutive "star" of The Christmas Bunny was played in the film by "Rupert", a French Mini Lop rabbit who lived at The Critter Barn in Zeeland, Michigan, just outside of Grand Rapids. Rupert was born in late summer of 2009 and was about 6 months old when the film was shot. Rupert lived a good life, but had troubles with his teeth. He enjoyed eating canned pumpkin for years, in addition to some hay and pellets. He was laid to rest on Wednesday, August 6, 2014. He was a sweet, playful bunny who won the hearts of thousands through his performance in The Christmas Bunny. See more »
Charming but not overly sweet, with lessons on responsibility
In Ottawa County in western Michigan, the Cooper family is in financial trouble because Scott has lost his engineering job and his wife Patti's job painting furniture doesn't pay enough. They have a son Billy. One way to help the family make money is to take in a foster child.
Julia is on her fifth foster home. Her mother keeps getting in trouble, and has given Julia up only to ask for her back and get in trouble again.
Julia arrives but won't talk. She has a video of "The Velveteen Rabbit" which she immediately starts watching, and she won't stop.
The family goes to Uncle Chip's house, which is really nice. Chip has money and can offer Scott a job but Scott won't take it. The family opens presents on Christmas Eve because Chip, his wife and his son and daughter are going to Mexico on the big day.
One of the presents results in a serious injury to a rabbit in the woods; the bunny appears to be a pet. Julia picks it up and holds it, and Scott and Patti go to the vet. The vet wants a lot more money than the family can afford, but it is possible for the rabbit to recover without him doing anything. This will require help from someone who knows rabbits, and there is a place.
The family has seen the old house where Betsy Ross lives, with a sign saying "Rabbits" out front. Betsy takes the rabbit, saying she knows exactly what to do, and the family should come back next Tuesday. This is after Julia starts school.
So will the rabbit get well? Will Julia adapt to her new situation? Will Scott get a job? Will Julia's mom show up for Christmas?
Sophia Bolen does a great job. She doesn't have to say much, and when she does talk, she shows a wide range.
If you're looking for Carol Brady, look somewhere else. Florence Henderson does an outstanding job but looks her age at long last; Betsy has made no effort to look good. Her personality is more Martha Raye or Sophia Petrillo than what Henderson has given us over the years. And that's fine. She is kind and loving in her way. This is not a sweet movie, but it is touching, and Betsy has a lot to teach about responsibility.
Faith is included in this movie as well. Patti has it but Scott is about to lose his.
While the movie had a TV-G rating, that doesn't mean it is without concerns. Julia's mother did abuse her, though she hits a camera showing Julia's point of view, not the girl. She is dressed for a hot date, but some of what is said about her suggests she was a prostitute. Plus she sold drugs. In addition, Julia, having been abused, also abuses.
Overall, this is a fine family film.
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