A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Difficult problems inspire people to come up with creative solutions. You can't make people take things they don't want.
Positive Role Models
Jack is clever and charming when he wants to be but also hot-headed and mean when he feels threatened. He's kind and affectionate with his younger foster siblings. Ryan is thoughtful and reflective and a bit shy. Jack helps her come out of her shell. Blair is firm but encouraging. Art is a dedicated probation officer who goes beyond his job description to help people who deserve a chance.
Violence & Scariness
A dog is hit by a car but survives. The accident isn't shown. The shelter's funding runs out at Christmas and any dogs left will go to the city pound where euthanasia is inevitable. Jack yells at a shop keeper who interrupts Jack's sidewalk sales pitch. When he loses the sale, Jack sets fire to the shopkeeper's sign. Jack gets angry and throws some boxes around. Jack's interactions with his real parents are not specified but it's implied that the situation was pretty bad given that social services took Jack from them.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Jack wants to date Hillary. Jack and Ryan kiss quickly.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Jack's mother, who has been sober for three days, is preparing to get drunk on malt liquor.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 12 Dog Days Till Christmas tackles serious matters in a simplistic but appealing TV movie-style format. A clever and charming boy about to age out of the foster care system deals with the disappointments of his alcoholic mother, jailed father, and the last of a series of revolving foster homes. His basic decency shines through as his devoted probation officer supports and encourages him. But even a great job at an animal shelter can't eliminate his understandable anger issues. He and the girl he likes kiss quickly. A dog is hit by a car but survives. The accident isn't shown. The shelter's funding runs out at Christmas and any dogs left will go to the city pound where euthanasia is inevitable. Jack yells at a shop keeper who interrupts Jack's sidewalk sales pitch. When he loses the sale, Jack sets fire to the shopkeeper's sign. Jack's mother, who has been sober for three days, is preparing to get drunk on malt liquor. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This movie has something to say about second chances, but the addition of a few more experienced actors, like Vel Johnson, would have improved this movie enormously. Its heart is in the right place though as it emphasizes the bad hand dealt to so many innocent children whose only crime was being born to addicts or irresponsible shirkers. The movie paints a fairly complimentary view of foster care, a system often portrayed in the media as seedy, mercenary, and sometimes downright cruel. The foster parents portrayed here are good people doing their best to help kids in need. Jack and his foster siblings are housed in a large, decent home governed by decent grownups who set rules and truly seem to care. Never having been adopted, and on the verge of aging out of the system, Jack feels alienated and alone. Worst of all, he fears that he will one day be as unreliable and hopeless as his mother. With the support of a saintlike probation officer who sees the good in Jack, the boy begins to develop empathy for others as he works with unlucky dogs and the shelter employees who open their hearts to him. Shakespeare is quoted and reading books is viewed as a fun and productive activity. What 12 Dog Days Till Christmas lacks in polish and Hollywood finesse, it makes up for in good intentions and generosity. In a nice reversal of media stereotypes, a solid, middle-class black family takes on a troubled white boy, sharing with him their love and family values.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.