A Belle for Christmas

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
A Belle for Christmas Movie Poster Image
Awful holiday dog story is boring and predictable.
  • PG
  • 2014
  • 91 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

A newly widowed dad does his best to care for his bereft young son and daughter. The children express their continuing love for their deceased mother and choose to live by her example of never giving up.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The father is kind, patient, and understanding. The children are problem solvers, although they don’t anticipate the trouble they will cause as they seek to find their lost dog and cope with the dad's mean-spirited new girlfriend.

Violence & Scariness

A 10-year-old sets off noisy cap explosions to scare the babysitter; she thinks shots are being fired and abandons the kids in her charge to save herself. The girlfriend, who has severe dog allergies, secretly drops the puppy at the pound to have it euthanized. The girlfriend also steals the dead mother’s jewelry. A boy claims a neighbor threatened to take his ".22 rifle and open fire on our front lawn." The kids steal their dad’s car keys, then drive and crash the dog pound’s van.

Sexy Stuff

Danielle comes downstairs in the morning in her pajamas, but there is no indication she slept with Glenn. Two third-graders hold hands.

Language

"Heck," "fart," "snarky."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink eggnog, but there's no indication it contains alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Belle for Christmas is a 2014 holiday movie in which a selfish and money-lusting woman goes after a kind widower even though she dislikes his two small children. When the family adopts a puppy, her dog allergies and territorial behavior kick in and she secretly takes the dog to the pound to be euthanized. The girlfriend also steals the dead mother’s jewelry. A boy claims a neighbor threatened to take his ".22 rifle and open fire on our front lawn." Kids steal a truck and lock a mean babysitter in a closet. Although religion isn't specifically mentioned, there are frequent oblique references to heaven, from where the deceased mother is said to be looking down.

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What's the story?

A well-to-do recent widower named Glenn (Dean Cain) and his young children are still in mourning as the action opens in A BELLE FOR CHRISTMAS. Danielle (Kristy Swanson) insinuates her way into their lives, hoping to take the mother’s place. She immediately steals the mother’s jewelry and plots to establish her role as girlfriend quickly. Falsely claiming her mother has died, she wins an invitation to move into the family house for the Christmas holiday, even though she lives only blocks away. When she secretly deposits the new puppy at the pound to be killed, the kids take action to find and rescue it.

Is it any good?

Nothing about this family story is patently offensive unless you happen to bristle when your intelligence is insulted. Numerous far superior films are mimicked here -- Home Alone immediately comes to mind -- but it’s no use. A bad script, bad acting, and a concept that wasn’t fully thought through result in a boring mess. Although Cain convincingly portrays the widowed father of two elementary school-age children, his earnest and warm performance can’t save this from its own ineptitude. You’d think the presence of an adorable puppy could save the picture, but the dog is given relatively little screen time, and no amount of furry cuteness could redeem this. The plot overflows with implausibilities, including a plot turn requiring that the family leave a young un-housebroken puppy alone for an entire day, unrestrained, free to relieve herself anywhere she likes and to eat Christmas presents and other holiday trimmings left all over the floor. It's a shock that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals did not boycott this movie.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about holiday movies. What do most have in common? Does this one fit that mold?

  • Why is it unsafe and unwise to leave a young puppy alone and unsupervised for an entire day?

  • Why do you think some people are willing to do mean and dishonest things for money?

Movie details

For kids who love the holidays

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