A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Christmas Break-In is a Home Alone clone, featuring Izzy, a super-poised, precocious 9-year-old girl, and her incompetent and clueless parents, who can't prioritize picking her up from school on the last day before Christmas vacation, even in a snowstorm. This leaves Izzy to contend with equally inept thieves who go on the lam at the closed school where she's still waiting to be picked up. Izzy evades the robbers, but her friend is tied up as they await rescue, spurring her to launch clever physical and psychological attacks.
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What's the story?
In CHRISTMAS BREAK-IN, Izzy (Cameron Seely) is 9, a self-possessed, bright girl who loves Ray (Danny Glover), her school's wise, guitar-playing janitor. She seems singularly poised to take care of herself and others. On the last day of school, she reminds her forgetful parents to pick her up so that they can run to the guitar store for its one-day half-price sale on the guitar of her dreams. As usual, Mom (Denise Richards) and Dad are so tied up at work that they forget. Izzy sits outside in a snowstorm waiting. Ray has a gig and needs to lock up and head into the snowstorm to make it on time. As he departs, he insists that Izzy at least wait for her parents inside the school. Worried that the parents are late, and despite his gig, Ray heads back to keep Izzy company. That's when three idiot robbers, carrying loot from knocking off a Salvation Army store, decide to take refuge from the storm in the school. Izzy separates from Ray, and he gets tied up by the robbers. She starts rattling chains over the P.A. system and sending out other spooky, haunting sounds and images to frighten the robbers in order to save her friend. Eventually, after an epically long ride in the snowstorm, the parents turn up. Izzy's brother uses a drone's power to snowboard him to the school, too. The police take the robbers, and Ray offers to help the least terrible of them after the fellow gets out of jail.
Is it any good?
This movie is a weak Home Alone retread that is family-friendly but lacks originality, plausibility, or surprises. Nothing in Christmas Break-In makes sense. Why does Ray go back to be with Izzy just at the moment her parents call to assure him they're on their way to her? Why does it seem to take the parents years to get to the local school? Why is it that the snowstorm keeps the robbers from driving to a getaway place and the parents from traveling to the school, while Ray has no trouble driving through the same terrible road conditions to return to Izzy? Comparative chronology -- the amount of time passing for each character struggling in his or her own situation -- doesn't match up.
Also, almost gratuitously, a seeming Santa figure in a large van shows up to help out, but ultimately nothing is really made of his appearance. And with the exceptions of Glover and James Robert Miller as the fleeting white-bearded Santa character, there isn't a convincing actor on the screen. Families can find much better holiday movies than this.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether any of Christmas Break-In seems plausible. Do you think it works as entertainment anyway? Why or why not?
How does this Christmas season movie compare with others you've seen? Does it seem the filmmakers are copying other Christmas films? Can you name some that this movie echoes?
Why do you think holiday movies often adhere to formulas?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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