The fantastical town of Evergreen Hills is back, courtesy of the fifth installment in as many years of Chick-fil-A’s animated holiday short film series that’s sure to capture, captivate and maybe even convict young audiences.
And maybe even charm parents while doing so.
For nine straight years, the Atlanta-based, family-owned chicken restaurant chain has been named the nation’s favorite fast-food according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. With more than 3,000 stores and annual sales topping $18 billion, the public loves Chick-fil-A, and not only because of its food.
Founded by the late S. Truett Cathy in 1946, the chain has been an historically popular destination for Christians, who have chosen to spend their dollars there for a variety of reasons, but especially because the company has acknowledged and prioritized God’s place in the company’s operations and success.
“Our decision to close on Sunday was our way of honoring God and of directing our attention to things that mattered more than our business,” reflected Cathy.
In this year’s delightful and whimsical ten-minute film, we meet the “timekeeper,” Sam, her brother Zach, and then the movie’s bad guy – a bully from the school’s basketball team.
The old man timekeeper sets the stage early in the production when he counsels Sam, who in previous editions has benefited from his sage wisdom and instruction.
After sharing that her brother is down in the dumps and she’s not sure why, the bearded craftsman has some good advice that’s applicable to us all and which is biblical at its core:
“Be bold. Real compassion requires action.”
We learn that Sam’s brother has been bullied online, and from a so-called friend. Has he confided in his parents? Zach says no, suggesting doing so will only make things worse.
In reality, youngsters should confide such struggles with their mother and father. Cyberbullying is a growing problem and can escalate quickly and lead to awful and dark places.
Sam decides to take the action herself, but after confronting her brother’s nemesis, she encourages Zach to turn the other cheek and kill the boy – with kindness. We subsequently learn the bully has recently lost his mother and is jealous of Zach’s good grades. It’s implied the boy is also envious of everything his one-time friend has that he doesn’t.
The bright and beautiful animation makes the classic television specials of our youth look almost pale and washed out by comparison. But it’s the storytelling and the message that are meant to get kids’ attention, a goal in which they seem to have succeeded.
Of course, Chick-fil-A’s primary goal is to sell chicken, and a lot of it. But year after year, they’ve demonstrated it’s possible to do well by doing good. In the end, Evergreen Hills serves up more than an excuse to try and sell more sandwiches, waffle fries and peppermint milkshakes. It’s also a promotional moment that will hopefully encourage children to follow Jesus’ admonition to, whenever and wherever possible, turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).
Image from Chick-fil-A.