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5 Star Christmas

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
5 Star Christmas Movie Poster Image
Sexual innuendo, cursing in misguided farce about politics.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

There's always room for compromise. Politicians are expected to jump ship, change their minds, and swap their principles in a flash.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Italian Prime Minister Franco Rispoli is a shallow, self-centered, lying, impatient, ignorant, cheating schemer who abuses the help and is always ready with a lie to cover up whatever problems his impulsiveness and stupidity have created. He plans to cheat on his wife with Senator Giulia Rossi, who is also lying to her spouse about her affair. Rispoli's wife tries to have an affair, too. 

Violence

A finicky window keeps closing on people sneaking into and out of a hotel room, knocking them out and in some cases causing amnesia.

Sex

Secret longings are revealed and pretended but no one actually does anything sexual beyond holding hands, ogling bikini-ed women, and kissing rather comically. A cynical politician seeks to undo a damaging sexual scandal by claiming to be gay. Sexually-charged jokes are made about an attractive Italian male movie star who "keeps the Italian flag flying high" and is "a huge asset for Italy, enormous."  A woman refers to her husband as a "frigid block of ice." Erectile dysfunction is referenced. Someone mentions dating a porn star.
 

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "damn," "hell," "ass," "piss," and "d--k."

 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults talk about drinking champagne and prosecco. Someone is overdosed with sleeping pills.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 5 Star Christmas is a broad sex farce with neither sex nor nudity, set in a five-star hotel during an economic conference against a backdrop of fictional Italian-Hungarian political relations. Women show up in negligees and scant bikini underwear professing hidden desires, revealing nothing more than cleavage and bad judgment. A cynical politician seeks to undo a damaging sexual scandal by claiming to be gay. Sexually-charged jokes are made about an attractive Italian male movie star who "keeps the Italian flag flying high" and is "a huge asset for Italy, enormous."  A woman refers to her husband as a "frigid block of ice." Erectile dysfunction is referenced. Someone mentions dating a porn star. Although the performances are energetic, it's doubtful young teens will have any interest in the bad decision-making and longings of middle-aged politicians. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "balls," "damn," and "hell," and adults enjoy prosecco and champagne.  There's nothing especially Christmas-y about this.

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What's the story?

In 5 STAR CHRISTMAS, Italian Prime Minister Franco Rispoli (Massimo Ghini) seems to know little about politics but a lot about ogling women. He likes to comment appreciatively on their assets to anyone nearby, so when he attends an economic conference in Budapest to promote Italian-Hungarian relations, he plans to consummate an ongoing flirtation with Senator Giulia Rossi (Martina Stella), an attractive opposition party leader. At first opportunity, she strips down to her black bikini underwear in his hotel suite, but sex is interrupted by the discovery of a man in a Santa suit. He was apparently trying to spy on the couple but was cut down mid-surveillance by a merciless, guillotine-like window that smashed into his head. The P.M.'s chief of staff, Walter Bianchini (Ricky Memphis), is a long-suffering assistant who finds himself dealing with the body, and telling outlandish lies to protect the president from scandal, including a pledge of secret passion for Rispoli's wife (Paola Minaccioni), who shows up unexpectedly in the hotel room in the midst of crisis. Bianchini also juggles a manipulative mother and the earnest woman he actually loves. A gossip reporter eventually finds out, leaving Bianchini and Rispoli to cook up a new scheme to save their careers.

Is it any good?

This is a broad farce that disappoints, quickly devolving into a misguided, overly-long SNL skit, a pity since this dull comedy represents the waste of a truly funny idea. Much of the plot of 5 Star Christmas seems derived from elsewhere. Noises Off comes to mind, as does Weekend at Bernie's, two far funnier movies. Teens will note immediately that most of the humor comes from unnecessarily bad decision-making on the part of characters who don't seem in the least bit real. And in a #MeToo-awakened atmosphere, the P.M.'s womanizing isn't going to be viewed as much of a comic asset, either. Giulia parades around in her underwear, risking her own and the P.M.'s reputation, and viewers have to wonder why she isn't covering up with one of those bathrobes that every decent five-star hotel provides. The couple is consumed with a scandal that could ruin them both yet the senator blithely answers the door in her underwear.

No one is smart enough to call the police when they find the body and, equally silly, Rispoli hands a room waiter Rossi's dress, something no one obsessed with hiding a woman's presence in his room would ever do. Martina Stella might be a terrific actress but here she just seems to be impersonating Sofia Vergara, and Ghini as the P.M. seems to think comedy is funnier when delivered accompanied by constant, aggressive hand gestures. That guy is going to hurt himself.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way people make excuses for having extramarital affairs. Does 5 Star Christmas seem to take it for granted that affairs are ordinary and usual? Do Franco and Giulia seem to care that they are hurting their spouses by pursuing sex with others?

  • What do you think the filmmakers' views are on the integrity of politicians? What dialogue and plot twists support your view?

  • Christmas doesn't play much of a role in the story. Why do you think "Christmas" is mentioned in the title?

Movie details

For kids who love to laugh

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