One can't deny that Believe is a charming movie. This is largely thanks to the film's cast, who play their parts with a great deal of sincerity and heart. Issac Ryan Brown in particular steals every scene as the energetic CJ, a boy who wants nothing more than to be the angel in the annual Christmas pageant. The film also doesn't shy away from difficult topics like financial bankruptcy and abandonment, tackling them both with a Christian worldview that's sure to leave faith-based audiences humming. As this is largely a Christian movie, faith takes a starring role in the production, and Believe should be complimented for making it feel like a natural part of life in a small town.
Sadly, much of these impressive qualities are wasted on a film that can't decide what it wants to be. Despite billing itself as a Christmas film, Believe has very little to do with the birth of Christ, even while set at Christmas. Indeed, even the fabled Christmas pageant, which drives much of the narrative, is never really seen. Audiences are given a brief glimpse, but otherwise this movie might as well have taken place in July. Similarly, the movie's Christian themes take a sudden back seat midway through the story so the film can espouse the virtues of hard work and capitalism. What is the message? Are we to put our faith in God or commerce? Is Christmas a time to help your neighbor, or chide them for saying "Happy Holidays"? We never get an answer to these questions, so the fact that Believe is just a little too long doesn't help. All in all, things would have been better if the film were more grounded in a singular, Christian message.