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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film is intended to entertain rather than educate, but it does have some strong positive messages.
Teaches the importance of hope, and that just because you can't see something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Home is not a place, it's a feeling. Gifts themselves don't matter, it's the thought behind them that counts. Difference should not be feared, and we should help those in need if we can. Sometimes the truth is painful, but it can make us stronger.
Positive Role Models
Nikolas is not interested in money and possessions. He is content with what he has because he believes that having each other is more important. He is polite, respectful, and caring, as well as showing resourcefulness, determination, and bravery -- even if his desire to help others sometimes puts him in danger. His father, Joel, is kind and responsible. Although he begins the film holding money and belongings in high regard, he comes to learn through his son that being good is better than being rich. The kids in the "real-world" framing device are initially a little cheeky, calling their aunt "old," but grow to show her more respect and kindness.
Some diversity within the cast, with a Black family as the central characters in in the "real-world" framing device, and a South Asian family and a Black teacher within the elf world. However, none of these characters are given huge parts and are surrounded by mostly White characters. Both male and female characters are represented as strong-willed and capable, with some women in positions of power in the elf world, though it is men who go on an expedition in hunting gear, which plays to stereotype. All characters are able-bodied and of a similarly slim body type, and there is no diversity from an LGBTQ+ perspective.
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Violence & Scariness
Passing mention of nightmares, and frequent reference to the death of parents in the past, as well as a scene involving the death of a parent in the story. Characters are chased by a reindeer and a roaring bear, and there is reference to a bear eating a human. A reindeer is shot with an arrow, a mouse chased with an axe, and mention made of a frozen dead squirrel. A troll attacks and picks up a character. In a counter-attack, the troll's head explodes (though off-screen). Characters are caught in traps and cages, tied up, threatened with spears, held high up in the air, and fall from great heights. There is a large explosion, though nobody is seen hurt.
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Products & Purchases
Initially some characters put great importance on wealth and gifts. But eventually they realize there are more important things to life.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Boy Called Christmas is a warm, festive family adventure with moments of peril that could frighten younger viewers, as well as parental death. Based on Matt Haig's popular kids' book, this Father Christmas origin story centers on a young boy named Nikolas (Henry Lawfull) who sets off on a quest to find his father. It boasts strong role models and positive messages often associated with the holiday season, including the importance of helping those less fortunate and how the thought counts more than the gifts themselves. Characters are chased by animals, threatened, and attacked by a troll. But no real harm comes to anyone -- other than the troll, whose head explodes off-screen. The settings are very festive, with plenty of Christmas decorations, elf cities, and snow, plus an adorable talking mouse (voiced by Stephen Merchant) who's sure to melt most hearts. The film has plenty of Christmas spirit and overall is a gentle watch that can be enjoyed by most age groups, from kids to grandparents. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
An ideal Christmas movie to watch as a family, this festive treat really will appeal to all generations. The production values of A Boy Called Christmas are high throughout, with stunning snowy landscapes stretching for days, magical special effects, and slick animation breathing life into its animal buddies -- particularly Merchant's mischievous Miika the mouse. Working as an origins story for Santa, the film intertwines elements such as the red hat, reindeer, and toy workshop seamlessly into the narrative, gradually building to the tradition of Christmas while always maintaining a world of intricacies and intriguing characters around it.
Look closely behind some of the incredible make-up and you'll find the likes of Kristen Wiig, Sally Hawkins, Toby Jones, and Jim Broadbent, as well as Smith and Joel Fry in the "real world" setting. As Nikolas, Lawfull is a revelation in his first major role, his wide-eyed innocence tempered by a strength and steely determination that suggests this won't be the last we'll see of the young actor. His gentle charm is very much at home in a film that, in many ways, harks back to an old-fashioned simplicity, where the true meaning of Christmas can never fully be quashed.
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.