All I Want for Christmas

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
All I Want for Christmas Movie Poster Image
Predictable and formulaic romantic Christmas movie.
  • G
  • 2008
  • 86 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movies sweet but predictable messages revolve around good people getting what they deserve, and love triumphing over everything else. There's definitely a pro-middle class, anti-elitist sensibility to the movie.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sarah is a hard-working single mother who operates a community center. Jesse is her 9-year-old son who uses a toy company's Christmas contest to get not what only he wants, but what he thinks his mother wants. Ben is an idealistic writer who also volunteers as a Boy Scout troop leader.


Two adult characters romantically kiss.




Characters eat from clearly marked boxes of Popeye's Chicken during a work meeting. When a character proposes marriage, there is a close up of a clearly marked Kay Jewelers logo on the ring box.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters drink wine -- and in one instance a shot of hard alcohol -- but do not act intoxicated.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that All I Want for Christmas is a formulaic and predictable romantic Christmas movie that is tame enough for tweens and tee. Adult characters drink wine, and in two scenes, product placement is obvious. On the positive side, this movie does try to speak to the difficulties single parents and their children face, especially when one of the parents has died. Ultimately, think of this as a subpar interpretation of Sleepless in Seattle, with a Christmas backdrop.

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What's the story?

Sarah (Gail O'Grady) runs a community center in New York City. She is a single parent to Jesse, a 9-year-old boy who still misses his father who died before he got to know him, but wishes his mother would find someone new. When a toy company announces a contest where they will give the winner anything they want for Christmas, Jesse enters the contest and sends a video to the company in which he asks for a boyfriend for his mother. Seeing a winning marketing campaign, the company decides to give Jesse the prize, which means they fix Sarah up on a series of bad dates with men who just aren't right for her. While these dates happen, Jesse hopes Sarah will realize that their friend and neighbor Ben -- a Boy Scout troop leader and journalist for a community paper -- is really the best guy for her. But in the meantime, one of the wealthy scions of the toy company (Greg Germann) falls for Sarah, and so she must decide what's best for her and Jesse as the Christmas snows start to fall.

Is it any good?

At the end of the day, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS is a slightly tweaked, holiday-themed version of Sleepless in Seattle. While the film does make a decent attempt at honestly showing the difficulties single parents and their children contend with, the story itself adheres closely to a predictable, oft-seen formula, and many of the characters -- the single woman's brash friend who tells her she needs to date more, the spoiled rich guy who has never had to work with his hands, the nice guy next door who just can't catch a break -- aren't the most original.

While the actors do the best they can with such trite material, it isn't enough to make this worthwhile. Young kids will be bored with the emphasis more on love and less on Christmas, and older kids will have a good indication of how the film will end about 20 minutes in, if not sooner.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about love stories in Christmas movies. Why do the two often go together?

  • How accurately do you think this movie reflects the realities of single parents and their kids?

  • Did the movie end the way you thought it would? What would have improved the quality of this movie?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holidays

Themes & Topics

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