A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's nothing offensive about A Muppet Family Christmas, but it does miss an important opportunity to explain winter holiday celebrations that fall outside the Christian mainstream of American society. Instead, the Fraggles celebrate their own non-Christmas gift-giving celebration, which seems to be a nameless catch-all placeholder, leaving parents to explain alternatives such as Hanukkah, Kwaanza, and Winter Solstice.
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What's the story?
In A MUPPET FAMILY CHRISTMAS, after assuring everyone that his mother loves surprises, Fozzie Bear and several carloads of Muppets pull in unannounced at the Bear family farm for Christmas. In fact, Fozzie's mom is about to go on vacation in the tropics, and has even rented the place out to a nice old man (Gerry Parks, "Doc" from the Jim Henson HBO program Fraggle Rock) and his dog. Mrs. Bear resigns herself to a busy Yuletide celebration at home instead.
Is it any good?
Muppets from three separate Jim Henson universes get together for Christmas in the countryside in this rib-tickling holiday movie. Muppets from Sesame Street arrive in force, and Miss Piggy makes a dramatic entrance. There's a strained moment when the Swedish Chef wants to serve up Big Bird in lieu of a Christmas turkey. The yellow fowl's selfless gift-giving causes the cook to have a change of heart.
With no pretenses other than to capture a gentle holiday spirit, A Muppet Family Christmas is a worthy addition to Jim Henson's Muppets series. While light on plot, there's an unbridled joy in watching Muppets join together from various Henson productions. For maximum impact, young viewers should already be familiar with these characters, but it's OK if they aren't. Numerous Christmas carols, mostly secular ("Jingle Bell Rock"), are performed, although the absence of subtitles for the lyrics makes this a little less than a pure sing-along. Putting in a warm cameo appearance at the end is none other than Jim Henson himself, doing the dishes in the kitchen during the party. "They seem to be having a good time out there," the Muppet mogul says. The statement could equally apply to mirthful young viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about alternative holiday celebrations. Why doesn't everyone celebrate Christmas? Why do people who aren't particularly religious, or not even Christian, celebrate the holiday? Explore alternative holidays together, such as Kwaanza, Winter Solstice, and Hannukah.
How do they celebrate in A Muppet Family Christmas?
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