Chilly Christmas

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Chilly Christmas Movie Poster Image
Forgettable Christmas fare will amuse kids with potty humor.
  • NR
  • 2012
  • 84 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Intended to entertain, not inform.

Positive Messages

Generic positive messages about heroism ("A hero is just as afraid as a coward; the difference is, a hero steps forward, a coward steps back."), as well as the value of friendship, and the strength of the bond between a boy and his dog.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The 11-year-old hero is bright, responsible, and loyal; he disobeys his dad for the sake of his dog, but mostly for laughs. Bobby's dad is a concerned, loving parent, who treats his son with respect. The bumbling criminals are inept and silly rather than evil. Females are self-reliant and accomplished; minimal ethnic diversity with no stereotyping.

Violence & Scariness

Comic action as dog nappers chase a boy and his dog. Stumbling pratfalls in many scenes: objects fall, the dog overturns everything in his path, and villains are knocked out momentarily. Chilly barks and bears his teeth at bullies who run off. No injuries; nothing scary.

Sexy Stuff

Bikini-clad women evident in a beach scene which introduces the California location. An adult couple shares a brief, warm kiss.


Lots of potty humor focuses on the dog's peeing and pooping. Several scenes show Bobby and friends trying to teach Chilly how to use a toilet and toilet paper; accidents happen (off camera), but the kids react broadly.


Roadrunner Transportation, Walsh Surfboards.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Chilly Christmas, a live-action Christmas "miracle" movie, will provide kids with lots of the easy laughs that come from dog misbehavior, housebreaking accidents, and "kids-in-charge" stories. The action is strictly farcical; the incompetent dog nappers are easily outwitted by Chilly and friends. The struggling single parent (in this case, a dad) learns important lessons from the son and his pet. Aside from the many dog poop and pee jokes, there's nothing objectionable.

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What's the story?

It's Christmas in California; the sun is shining, the beaches are filled with happy people. Bobby, age 11 (a likable Bryson Sams), with his devoted dog Chilly, is looking forward to a wonderful holiday. But his single, police detective dad (a fine C. Thomas Howell) has news for Bobby -- he's been offered a job with the FBI in New York City; they'll be moving only days after Christmas. And, worst of all, they won't be able to take Chilly with them; he's an outdoor dog, not suited for big city life in an apartment. Desperate, Bobby and his good friends, determine to provide their own Christmas miracle and make Chilly suitable for the city. The training begins with humorously disastrous results, complicated by the detective's current case: dog nappers (headed by Tom Arnold in a role that's almost become type-casting) on a wild crime spree. Time nearly runs out; Bobby's and Chilly's antics place them in harm's way; and Bobby's dad uncovers new feelings about his beautiful and child-friendly female boss.

Is it any good?

Chilly Christmas is another in the crowded field of boy-meets-dog-versus-bumbling-criminals movies; its biggest asset is Chilly, an adorable, scene-stealing dog. Otherwise, this predictable, derivative story has little to recommend it. All the requisites are in place: bullies, farcical villains, a single parent in need of a soulmate, a tomboy with a big heart, and a motherless kid who's faced with a big transition. And the novice director, some beginning actors, and a general lack of originality don't help the cause.

Still, it's easy to see why kids might like it: slapstick humor, dog poop, and Christmas miracles are almost always appealing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the action in this film. What are some of the ways filmmakers let us know that the violence is not real?

  • Bobby takes steps to convince his dad that the decision about Chilly going to New York is the wrong one. What are some constructive ways that have helped you get your parents to take a second look at a decision they've made?

  • Lots of movies show school bullies. Who helps kids deal with bullies in your school? Why do you think kids bully others?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holiday stories

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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