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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Christmas special is a lot like Stephen Colbert's Comedy Central show The Colbert Report. There's a lot of satire that's best for older teens who will understand it -- and Colbert's ultra-conservative character -- on that level. Specific to this special, the religious elements of Christmas aren't spared from jokes: Willie Nelson plays a wise man trying to give the baby Jesus pot as a gift (he's later arrested), Feist plays an angel who puts people with prayer requests on hold like a telephone operator, and the video to Toby Keith's "War on Christmas" song shows places with nonbelievers being blown up. There's also ample sexual innuendo in John Legend's "Nutmeg" song. Also of note: the ads before the DVD highlight uncensored Comedy Central shows with some iffy sexual content that goes beyond what's included in this program.
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What's the story?
Trapped by a bear in his cabin, Stephen Colbert has no way to get to the filming of his Christmas special. Luckily, many musical guests stop by to keep him company: Toby Keith as a hunter, John Legend as a forest ranger, Willie Nelson as the fourth wise man in the nativity scene, Feist as an angel on top of the Christmas tree, and Jon Stewart and Elvis Costello as themselves. DVD extras include a yule log with burning books, a video advent calendar, a bonus song sung by Colbert, and some alternate endings.
Is it any good?
Combining an eclectic mix of musicians singing truly catchy comic tunes with the hokey vibe of classic TV Christmas specials, this is sure to be a hit with the "Colbert Nation" fan base and beyond. The best song in the mix comes from Feist, whose angelic voice fits the part. Stewart struggles vocally with his Hanukkah song, but his comic timing makes up for it. Legend could use some acting lessons, but his song about nutmeg expertly combines the bawdy and ridiculous.
Sometimes the religious satire comes close to going over the line -- and it will be way over the line for some -- but with Colbert in character as an ultra-conservative narcisist, it'd be hard to know whom to blame for any offense he may have caused.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about satire and religion. Do you think Colbert is successful at making you laugh, or is it offensive? Or both? Is it easier to laugh knowing that Colbert is playing a character? What freedoms does his character give him? What other examples of religious satire can you name?
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