48 Christmas Wishes

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
48 Christmas Wishes Movie Poster Image
Bland holiday tale turns dark; some emotional intensity.
  • G
  • 2017
  • 133 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Don't give up. Even when you lose a loved one, know that that person will stay with you in your heart and memory. "Getting what you want doesn't make you happy if you don't have what you need."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Elves are plucky and determined to save Christmas for a town whose wishes were lost. They use ingenuity to get wishes out of unsuspecting humans.    

Violence & Scariness

Two young kids lost their dad years before to cancer, and they and their mom are still sad.

Language
Consumerism

Although the movie tries to sell the idea that getting toys at Christmas isn't as important as enjoying and appreciating a loving family, the elves spend most of the movie making lists of stuff to deliver to people for Christmas.   

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 48 Christmas Wishes starts out as a light tale for young kids about careless elves misplacing a town's Christmas wishes. But the ending goes dark and teary when two kids face the deep sorrow brought on by the death six years earlier of their wonderful father. The tone of the film shifts so dramatically that parents should be prepared to console sensitive kids who may feel blindsided by the dramatic and out-of-the-blue shift in tone.   

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What's the story?

The 48 CHRISTMAS WISHES that were sent from a small town to the North Pole are lost by a careless elf just two days before Christmas. The elf in question, Mindy (Clara Kushnir), feels terrible, partly because she has been complaining about being assigned to the mailroom instead of the toy-building workshop she feels she is better suited to. Certain that she and the two mailroom elves she works with -- Cam (Ethan Yang) and Sammy (Maya Franzoi) -- have ruined Christmas for the town's people, Mindy schemes to head for the town with Cam, both disguised as humans. The mission is to trick humans into divulging their wishes so the undercover elves can let Sammy know back at the North Pole and quickly make all the gifts the humans yearn for. Pointy-eared Mindy and Cam cluelessly try to blend in with the humans until they run into Blake (Liam MacDonald), a 9-year-old boy who immediately figures out that they're elves and that they've got a problem. He comes to their aid, putting them in proper human clothes and helping them learn everyone's Christmas wishes. All of this is played for comedy until the plot becomes maudlin and teary as Blake dresses in his dead father's old Santa suit and performs in front of a crowd the poem his father used to read every year for the Christmas show. Even Blake's Scrooge-like older sister, Emma (Elizabeth Ellsworth), who has hated Christmas ever since her father's death, is imbued with Christmas spirit as everyone else watching either cries or looks moved.  

Is it any good?

Those looking for a sweet, traditional Christmas tale should look elsewhere. 48 Christmas Wishes seems at odds with itself as it attempts to promote the usual ideas that the spirit of Christmas should be valued over a desire for material gifts and that the season should be a magical time for people to love each other. At the same time, the hapless elves who lose the town's wishes fear that Christmas will be "ruined" unless they redraw the lost list and deliver all those material gifts. As for the title, surely a bustling town, like the one depicted in the movie, has more than 48 residents. Do the elves not care about the town's other hundreds, or even thousands, of residents? More quibbling: Kids don't usually go to school on Christmas Eve.

Parents should be aware that the movie goes from bland comedy to manipulative melodrama at the end, in scenes that refer directly to the death of a beloved parent and how a family is struggling to cope with the loss. Sensitive kids should be prepared for poignant sadness and discussions about losing loved ones.  
 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how difficult it must be for a child to lose a parent, like the children in 48 Christmas Wishes did. Why do you think holidays might be an especially hard time for dealing with such loss?

  • Are there differences between the way Emma and her younger brother Blake cope with their father's death?

  • Was 48 Christmas Wishes a typical Christmas movie? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love the holidays

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