A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The empathy Izzy's father shows to her mother regarding her kombucha endeavor models compassion, and his eventual support of it reiterates the message of believing.
Overall message is that there's value and payoff in believing in Christmas magic, even if (and sometimes especially if) you're doing it alone. It's important to communicate with others, even if they don't always listen or hear you. Some negative behaviors (including insults and peer pressure) don't have consequences. Themes include courage and perseverance.
Positive Role Models
Izzy tries to do the right thing when it comes to saving Snowflake and is quick to call out injustice when she suspects someone of plotting to steal her. Izzy and Max's friendship is strained at first, but Max really comes around by the end: He helps Izzy execute a heist to retrieve Snowflake and supports her in front of their parents. When he struggles to believe in magic, Izzy kindly advises him to "try to believe in Snowflake like I believe in you." Izzy's parents are patient and understanding of her varying feelings about their move to the farm. They encourage Izzy to stay curious and explorative.
Main characters are primarily White, but people of color (including Black, Asian, and Latino community members) visit the farm. Izzy's best friend from the city, Marco, is Black; he's thinly drawn but not tokenized. Izzy herself has agency and is well developed as a character.
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Violence & Scariness
Two teens visit the farm and make a game out of scaring a goat. Even though they're told that the goat passes out when it gets startled and the loud noise is scaring it, the boys continue their game.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Izzy's parents hug, hold hands, and exchange light affection; no kissing.
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Max calls Izzy's favorite unicorn show "dumb."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Unicorn for Christmas is a fun (if predictable) story about believing in Christmas magic. Abby James Witherspoon (niece of Reese) stars as Izzy, a young city girl whose family moves to a country farm, where her father (Chuck Wicks) has been hired to run the annual Christmas carnival. When Izzy discovers a unicorn named Snowflake, she's delighted -- but becomes distraught when she realizes that only those who believe can see Snowflake's horn. Between her father's boss (Ed Mariano) stealing Snowflake to exploit her for money and her brother Max's (Christian Finlayson) antics, Izzy must hold on to her strong belief in Christmas magic to pull through. There's some behavior that verges on animal cruelty: Teens purposely scare a goat, which passes out when it gets startled. Most characters are thinly drawn and fairly clichéd, but positive messages about courage and perseverance come through as Izzy's efforts to save Snowflake are eventually recognized by all members of her family. Married adults are affectionate, but there's no kissing. Language is limited to "dumb." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a cute family holiday movie that proudly stands on the shoulders of every other cute family holiday movie that came before it. While A Unicorn for Christmas doesn't offer anything unique in its plot or characters, it knows its place as a quaint story about the power of believing. What particularly comes across very well is Izzy's constant belief not only in Snowflake's magic, but in herself.
Izzy's brother, Max (Christian Finlayson), is interesting to watch as he deals with peer pressure in low-stakes situations. Seeing him learn to trust and believe in Izzy is ultimately heartwarming, if predictable, and it presents a good opportunity for family discussion. Kids will likely enjoy watching Izzy and Max take down the villains, but may cringe at some of their clichéd dialogue. Overall, this wholesome movie is a fine pick for family movie night during the Christmas season, as long as you don't have high expectations.
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.