A man comes to grips with his past thanks to help from his wife in this very touching tearjerking and feel good film from actor turned filmmaker Joey Travolta.

For years, Scott Johnson has been trying to find his biological mother. He learns about being adopted after an accident on his 5th birthday kills his adoptive parents and resulted in him being seriously injured. However, since the days he has recovered, gotten married to wife Karen, has a son Jeremy and is about to be a dad for the second time. However, due to his accident, he has disowned both birthdays and Christmas. He soon finds his life turned around when he finally finds his biological mother. However, there poses a problem.

Scott discovers his mother is developmentally disabled and he feels more in fear of how to cope with it. Karen, however, decides to do something about it when he can’t. She finds the woman, Carol, who lives at a center for people with developmental disabilities and instantly strikes up a friendship with her. As the two grow closer, Scott still has some fear in his heart and on top of that, Carol’s mother Helen, thinks it would be best to avoid the issue completely. However, Scott will soon learn that the past is something he will have to let go of and embrace a future, including one with his long-lost mother and the ones who can help both he and Carol include Karen and an unexpected ally.

This may be seen as more than a Christmas film, but a film about acceptance and embracing the future. Joey Travolta, the brother of Hollywood icon John Travolta, directed this very touching and at times, tearjerking film with a cast and crew who have developmental disabilities, notably Down’s Syndrome. The script, by J.C. Peterson, gives viewers a chance to feel for these characters and see changes more in central character Scott, excellently played by RJ Mitte, as he becomes like Dr. Seuss’ Grinch. Around Christmas, he is bitter and miserable until an unexpected moment finally shows him to gain a heart and find acceptance with his biological mother.

Aside from Mitte’s excellent performance, major props go out to Andrea Friedman in the titular role of Carol of the Bells, which is a nickname given to her because of the character bring part of a bell choir. Carol is exactly the type of character you would want as a friend and be there for her as much as she would be there for you. You can’t help but sympathize with her because for so many years, she has missed her son and there have always been those who think they know what’s best for her, such as the case with Donna Mills’ Helen, Carol’s mother and in some ways, Lee Purcell’s Lilliane, the director of the center where Carol stays. However, Yuly Mireles’ Karen is the true catalyst of the film as she is the one who ultimately finds herself bringing mother and son back together despite any obstacle that stands in the way.

This leads to one of the best third acts in any film of this genre. There are some major revelations that even go beyond the basis of the film as well as some major twists within the story. It is clear that many of the characters go through changes and in no way a positive to a negative but the exact opposite. And even more so, chances are, as it did with this reviewer, it will ultimately bring some happy tears. This is the kind of heartwarming film you will want to see if you ever feel down, even if it’s not Christmas.

Carol of the Bells is a definite winner of a film. RJ Mitte and Andrea Friedman churn out brilliant performances in a film that doesn’t necessarily have to be seen just on the holidays as the film is more about acceptance and the film will definitely bring one some happy tears.


High Octane Pictures presents an Inclusion Films production. Director: Joey Travolta. Producer: Dale Oprandy. Writer: J.C. Peterson. Cinematography: Andy Ryan. Editing: Christopher Duguay.

Cast: RJ Mitte, Yuly Mireles, Andrea Friedman, Lee Purcell, Donna Mills, Donna Pescow, Del Zamora, Elijah Maximus, Geri Jewell, Isha Collins, Aisha McBride.

High Octane Pictures will release the film on DVD and Digital on March 3.