A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
Parents and caregivers: Set limits for violence and more with Plus
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there are several images of violence that appear throughout this animated holiday movie. Some are distanced by appearing on a watched TV -- such as images of war, hockey fights, and a gun shooting -- and some are enacted by main characters, like when the father beats up a jealous rival who was threatening his son. Several scenes involving mild peril, like a spaceship crash and a mildly tense climax where a boy tries to stop a missle from blowing up Earth, might agitate younger kids. Also, some stereotyping of overweight people creeps into the story.
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What's the story?
When a dad Martian is called upon to pilot an important mission to Earth, he has to put off some planned time with his son. But the son finds a way to sneak onto the father's ship and ends up getting into the middle of a mess. The Martians had assumed that humans were entirely violent and awful based on TV images transmitted to Mars. They also thought Santa Claus was a thief. The young Martian finds out that these things are not entirely true after he meets a friendly, helpful girl and a jolly Santa. When the father tries to rescue his son, a jealous colleague takes over the Martian ship and refuses to be convinced that their mission to destroy Earth is misguided. Together, father and son must try to save Earth.
Is it any good?
Unfortunately the build-up to the main part of the story -- the journey to Earth -- takes so long and is packed with so much backstory that kids and even adults might get lost, or just bored. Once the trip begins, things pick up and it's sort of interesting to see humans and Christmas from outsiders' eyes. The main character Kip is generally appealing, and the storyline has some originality to it. But the mixed messages around violence, consequences, and stereotypes make this a movie to pass over in favor of better choices.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the misunderstanding that Martians had about humans. Why did they think we were violent and mean? What did they base their assumptions on? How did they end up changing their minds? Kids: Have you ever made assumptions about a person or a group of people only to find out you were wrong?
Talk about how people in other countries with other holidays might see this movie. Isn't it funny that all the images the Martians got from Earth seemed to be from American TV? How would this movie appear to people who celebrate Hanukkah or Diwali or Ramadan instead of Christmas?
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