A Christmoose Story (Midden in de Winternacht)

Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
A Christmoose Story (Midden in de Winternacht) Movie Poster Image
Ill-judged festive family adventure fails to take flight.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 81 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The movie is intended to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Forgiveness and learning to let go are strong messages in the movie. Recurring themes also include empathy, perseverance, and putting others first.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Max is mostly helpful and polite, though initially closed off from his sister and mother because he is angry about his parents' separation. The family unit is represented as strong and supportive, and able to come together in a crisis. A stereotypical grumpy old man is seen to be one-dimensional and beyond help. Even Santa shows an unexpected mean streak.

Violence & Scariness

A character shoots a hunting rifle on a number of occasions, and there is reference to killing a wild boar. Mention of injections. An animal with an injured leg. Fireworks are set off in a chicken coop. A character starts to strangle an animal before having their ear pulled forcing them to let go. Bullying behavior includes throwing shopping on the floor, pushing, and intending to punch a character. Dead stuffed animals are seen floating in the air.

Sexy Stuff

A character refers to another as "sexy."

Language

No strong language, although frequent derogatory terms include "brat," "jerk," "creep," "scoundrel," "sleazebag," "loser,"
"crap," "heck," "lunatic," "klutz," and "scumbag." "Loony bin" is used in relation to a mental hospital.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink wine during dinner and, at one point, a child reaches for a glass (though has it taken away). Characters drink shots and drink directly from a bottle of spirits, and one is seen to be visibly drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Christmoose Story (Midden in de Winternacht) is a Dutch (dubbed into English) family Christmas adventure about a young boy who befriends Santa's talking moose. Max (Dennis Reinsma) and Moos (voiced by Jeroen van Koningsbrugge) must work with Max's family, and Santa (Derek de Lint) to try and save Christmas. There is mild threat from a neighbor with a hunting rifle and from the authorities who may discover Moos' existence. There are two short instances of bullying between young boys that include teasing and the threat of violence. Derogatory terms such as "scumbag," "loser," and "klutz" are used frequently. In one sequence, Santa is arrested and taken to a mental hospital, which is referred to as a "loony bin." Despite being a kids movie, alcohol is consumed on several occasions and in one scene Santa is clearly drunk. The separation of parents is mentioned, though Max works through his negative feelings toward his father during the movie and learns to forgive and move on.

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What's the story?

In A CHRISTMOOSE STORY Max (Dennis Reinsma) is struggling with his parents' separation. But when a talking moose -- called Moos -- crash-lands through his roof, Max is pulled into a magical adventure in which he has to keep Moos hidden until he is well enough to pull Santa's sleigh back home. With the help of his sister Kiki (Dana Goldberg) and mother Kirsten (Jelka van Houten) the family must work together to fend off their rifle-carrying neighbor -- and the authorities -- so they can reunite Moos with Santa and ultimately save Christmas.

Is it any good?

A touch of unnecessary aggression and negative language lend a slightly uneven tone to what is otherwise a fairly wholesome Christmas fare. The plot is a lackluster take on the age-old story of a child helping Santa save Christmas. Here, the focus is on Santa's moose -- rather than reindeer -- aptly named Moos, whose incessant talking and dopey nature never quite channels the energy or wackiness to make the warmth or humor stick.

Performances are solid across the board, but A Christmoose Story fails to summon the sense of urgency or threat warranted by every child's worst nightmare -- Christmas being canceled. Even at just 81 minutes, the plot meanders casually towards its foregone conclusion, and the decision to show Santa as both drunk and disparaging toward Moos feels like an uncomfortable choice for a movie aimed at a younger audience. A derivative Christmas movie unlikely to become a festive classic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Max learns during A Christmoose Story. How does his friendship with Moos reflect upon his relationship with his dad and his parents' separation?

  • In what ways do Max, his sister, and their mother show support for each other? Why is teamwork such an important character strength to have?

  • Talk about the character of Santa. He is seen to be sometimes drunk and mean toward Moos. How did this portrayal feel to you? Did it seem out of place for a film like this? If so, why?

  • Can you name any other Christmas movies that involve a child or children helping Santa to save the day?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

Themes & Topics

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