Chasing Christmas

 
(i)

 

Listless holiday comedy with drinking and a smoking ghost.
  • Review Date: December 13, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 80 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The story's intended messages center on holiday spirit, spreading joy, and appreciating what you have, but most of the movie is spent glossing over Jack's character flaws in favor of a lukewarm subplot about a disgruntled Christmas ghost. A predictably happy ending offers some holiday cheer, and Jack begins to see the unexpected course of his life in a new light, which allows an emotional reunion with his daughter.

Positive role models

It takes a while, but Jack does come to terms with his past and embraces change for a better future. When forced with a choice between personal happiness and his daughter's future, he foregoes his own desires for her. On the downside, he's let an event from seven years ago tarnish his family and professional life.

Violence

Multiple head blows with wine bottles and Christmas decorations, leaving the victim either out cold or seeing stars. Some fistfights, sucker punches, an all-hands-on-deck club brawl (bodies flying, chairs crashing, that kind of thing), and the ghost of a man walks around with a swordfish impaled through his chest, which led to his human form's demise. One scene shows a kid playing with a BB gun from a store display.

Sex

Two make-out sessions, one of which culminates in an implied sexual encounter on a pool table. Dialogue includes references to "making love," and a man talks about his wife's infidelity (he caught her in a closet with another man at their daughter's school) on a number of occasions.

Language

Occasional use of "hell," as well as "suck" and "butt."

Consumerism

Brand names like Coca Cola and Sprite are visible on products in one scene.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults often drink beer, wine, and mixed concoctions in social settings, at home (with the stated purpose of getting drunk), and, in one case, while at work. Smoking also has a consistent presence, as the Ghost of Christmas Past is often seen with a cigarette in hand and in one instance is shown using a peppermint stick as one.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this holiday comedy is marked by drinking, smoking (a main character talks about "needing a smoke," is often shown with a cigarette, and, in one scene, uses a peppermint stick as a substitute), and sexuality (multiple make-out sessions, references to affairs, and an implied encounter on a pool table). The movie bears little resemblance to its claimed inspiration, A Christmas Carol, and there's precious little holiday cheer to be had from the plot. Adults will find some humor in a character's cynicism about the meaning of Christmas, but it's not really appropriate for kids. Even less appropriate is a scene that astute viewers will notice practically spells out the truth about Santa.

What's the story?

Modern-day Scrooge Jack Cameron (Tom Arnold) has waged a seven-year war on Christmas after catching his wife with another man just days before the holiday when their daughter, Suzanne (Brittney Wilson), was young. Shunning everything that even hints at Christmas has helped him cope with the loss, but it's taken a toll on Suzanne and threatens their happiness. Enter the fabled Ghosts of Christmas Past (Leslie Jordan) and Present (Andrea Roth), who are tasked with opening Jack's eyes to the error of his ways and restoring his seasonal spirit. But when disgruntled Past leaves his charge stranded in a memory from 1965 and strikes out on his own, Jack and Present must track down the AWOL ghost and make it back to the present before the clock strikes midnight.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This modern-day story inspired by Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol revives the ghostly characters at the heart of the tale and brings a man face-to-face with his humbug ways, but the similarities to the classic end there. The story veers off track from the get-go, thanks to Past's cynicism about the holidays and his self-serving motivations, and little gets accomplished as a result. Jack's trip down memory lane does manage to change his disdain for the holiday and answer some of his lingering questions about his past, but the movie doesn't have the overall jolly effect that most Christmas comedies offer.

If you're still inclined to tune in to CHASING CHRISTMAS, be sure to do so without the kids. Besides the sexual content, frequent drinking, and smoking, there is one scene that, while brief and not entirely explicit, may cast doubt on Santa's identity for young believers. What's more, Past's constant grumblings about the extinction of the true meaning of Christmas won't mean anything to kids who are wrapped up in the magic of the holiday and all its trappings, but you'll probably find some truth -- and some humor -- in his musings.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what Christmas means. How do you and your family celebrate the holidays? What traditions do you have that reflect the spirit of giving? How does helping others make you feel?

  • Teens: What did you think of this story's relationship to A Christmas Carol? Did the characters and plot do the original tale justice? Have you seen other interpretations that were better?

  • How does the media portray love, marriage, and family life? How has this changed over the past few decades? Does this reflect societal changes, or do you think society is influenced by what is on TV? What shows do you watch that have positive family models?

Movie details

DVD release date:January 16, 2012
Cast:Andrea Roth, Leslie Jordan, Tom Arnold
Director:Ron Oliver
Studio:Lionsgate
Genre:Comedy
Run time:80 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Chasing Christmas was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written byGoolsfold January 19, 2012
 

Teen and Up

A smoking ghost, and a couple sexual scenes, one including passionate kissing on top of a pool table.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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