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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Angela's Christmas Wish continues the adventures of the animated characters inspired by novelist Frank McCourt. References are made to the first film, Angela's Christmas, but you don't have to have seen it to appreciate this sequel. Set in Limerick, Ireland, in 1913, the movie's setting and conditions could feel unfamiliar or even a bit sad to very young viewers, and there are some emotional scenes. But the ending is happy for all of the characters, including main character Angela (voiced by Lucy O'Connell) and her siblings. The contrast between the circumstances of Angela's poor family/neighbors and those of the wealthy family of the local vet is evident, but the message here is that money doesn't buy happiness, just as scarcity doesn't necessarily bring misery. Angela and her siblings make do with very little, but they have rich imaginations, demonstrate resourcefulness and generosity, and they're clearly well loved. Angela and her brother try raising money by singing in a local pub, and they face potential dangers when they try to sneak onto a boat, but the film has no seriously scary or iffy content. Language includes "Holy mother of Mary," "scaredy-cat," and "mother of God."
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What's the story?
In ANGELA'S CHRISTMAS WISH, Angela (voiced by Lucy O'Connell) and her siblings long for the return of their dad (Moe Dunford), who left for Australia two years ago. Deciding to take matters into their own hands and give their mom (Ruth Negga) a Christmas surprise, Angela and her brother Pat (Brendan Mullins) hatch plans to bring their dad home. When digging to Australia doesn't work, they consult an atlas and decide they'll take a train. When they're told that won't get them there, they opt for a ship. The film follows the pair as they explore their various ideas, raise funds for the trip, and involve the daughter (Lola Metcalfe) of the local vet in their plans. What they don't know is that their mom has her own Christmas surprise in store.
Is it any good?
Has there even been a more endearing hero than the wide-eyed, red-ponytailed title character of Angela's Christmas Wish? You can't help but root for her from the start, and when her wish is granted at the end and her animated and freckled face twists in shock, relief, and joy, only the most stoic of viewers will resist a tear. Angela is kind, hopeful, and determined. When she errs, she does so with the best of intentions.
As scripted by writer-director Damien O'Connor, based on characters from Angela's Ashes author Frank McCourt, the reality of the poverty around Angela's family only makes the character's sweetness and generosity more moving. Secondary characters are memorable, especially an old man with a pregnant cow but empty coffers and a blind accordion player busking for coins. The animated settings, like the central church and cobbled streets, bring a blue-tinged, December-chilled Limerick to life.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the mother's story of the fat king and the skinny pauper in Angela's Christmas Wish. What was the moral of this story?
Where is Ireland? Can you find it and Australia on a map? How would people travel between these two countries today?
What did you learn about the time and place of this film's setting? How would you compare it to your life today?
- On DVD or streaming: December 1, 2020
- Cast: Lucy O'Connell, Brendan Mullins, Ruth Negga
- Director: Damien O'Connor
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, History, Holidays
- Character strengths: Compassion, Gratitude, Integrity
- Run time: 47 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: January 14, 2022
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