Rationalizing every gross little facet of Christmas as God’s exact will.

Kirk Cameron's new film begins with a confession. Dressed in a festive sweater, sitting beside a roaring fire, the man who still looks like the all-American rascal the nation loved on Growing Pains (only older) turns his notably sparkling eyes toward the camera and addresses us directly.

"I... love... Christmas!" he gushes. "I love everything about Christmas!"

But that's not all Kirk Cameron loves.

Kirk Cameron looks at the tree. "I love Christmas trees!"

He looks down at his mug of hot chocolate. "I love hot chocolate!"

He looks at the fire and the stacks of wrapped presents. "I love the fires and the presents!"

He looks back at us. His eyes sparkle till they throb. Bad news is coming: Some people, Kirk Cameron tells us, insist on remaining blind to the holiday's true purpose and holy meaning. I readied myself for the boilerplate screed about the war on Christmas, the secular humanism and multicultural interests strangling Christians' ability to openly celebrate the birth of Christ. But these were not the adversaries Kirk Cameron is concerned with. Kirk Cameron wants to save Christmas from his fellow Christians—specifically, those Christians tempted to dismiss Christmas as a parade of gluttonous materialism built on pagan idolatry that has nothing to do with actual Jesus.

I was unfamiliar with this strain of anti-Christmas Christianity, but the film puts a face to the type, in the character of Kirk Cameron's brother-in-law, who is named, helpfully, Christian (played by the film's director and co-screenwriter, Darren Doane). When we meet Christian, he's sulking in his car, having left his own family's glamorous Christmas party (hot-chocolate samovar!) because he despairs of all the gluttony and materialism and icky pagan influences. Concerned brother-in-law Kirk Cameron goes out to find him, thus setting the stage of Saving Christmas's battle royale.

"I look at Christmas" Christian tells Kirk Cameron, "and I think: This cannot be what God wants." Kirk Cameron begs to differ. And that's pretty much the movie. Every time Christian expresses his doubt about the connection between gluttonous American Christmas and the teachings of Jesus Christ, Kirk Cameron—with the aid of nonprofessional actors and occasional production values—tells him exactly why he is stupid and how every component of Christmas is a direct reflection of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. Some highlights:

• Christian dismisses the idea that Jesus was born in December and denounces the Nativity as a fairy tale. Kirk Cameron agrees the story has been romanticized but encourages Christian to envision its reality: pregnant Mary, staggering around looking not for a warm stable but a rocky Bethlehem cave, where she'd give birth and wrap the child in swaddling clothes (which correspond to the shroud Jesus left behind when he rose from the tomb). "A baby born to die—that's the reason for the season!"

• Christian scoffs at Christmas trees as purloined paganism, but Kirk Cameron compares a Christmas tree lot to the Garden of Eden, where Adam stole an apple from the Tree of Knowledge and then wanted to put what he stole back on the tree but couldn't. Every time we hang an apple-shaped or at least round ornament on a Christmas tree, we're fulfilling Adam's dream of returning mankind to innocence. On top of that, every Christmas tree is a cross that's not needed, because God already sent us his son to die on a cross.

• Christian denounces Santa as nothing but a pagan folklore cartoon, and Kirk Cameron tells the story of the real Saint Nicholas, a swarthy, long-haired warrior who attended the Council of Nicea, where some guy tried to say that Jesus was of God but not God, and Saint Nicholas kicked his ass. This ass-kicking plays out in slow-motion, against a blast of techno-rock music. When Saint Nicholas is done kicking ass, he looks at his wife, then at the sleigh in the corner. "Come on," he says, for real. "Let's go bless some kids tonight." ("Santa... was the MAN!" Christian exclaims.)

• Finally, Christian addresses the general gluttony and gross materialism of Christmas, inspiring Kirk Cameron's most heartfelt speech of the film. Complaints about materialism are bunk, he explains, because Christmas is a celebration of God's spirit taking on a material form in Jesus. It's only fitting, therefore, that we give each other material things to celebrate his birth. As for gluttony (only technically a deadly sin), Christmas is our time to celebrate the most important man in the world, and God wants us to celebrate. "So get the biggest ham!" urges Kirk Cameron. "Use the richest butter! Make everything in your house point to Jesus!"

Eventually, Christian's accumulated enlightenment drives him back to the party, which he enters by running, jumping in the air, then sliding across the floor on his chest. Suddenly, everybody's breakdancing to a hiphop version of "Angels We Have Heard on High," and Kirk Cameron is doing the worm. As he bids good-bye, he says he hopes we can all learn to see Christmas "through new eyes." I'm sad to see him go. I could spend another hour watching him rationalize every gross little facet of Christmas as God's exact will.

Instead, I'm forced out back into the mall, in all its Christmas glory, which I now connect directly to Jesus. The cologne smell barreling out of Abercrombie & Fitch is frankincense and myrrh. Walking by Forever 21, I remember how God's only son is Forever 33. The Claim Jumper becomes a holy place where the greatness of God is mirrored in the greatness of portions. Eventually, night falls. Only two theaters anywhere near Seattle are showing this film, one here at Alderwood, the other in Tukwila. Nonetheless, Christmas appears to be safe. recommended