Christmas Carol: The Movie

  • Review Date: December 24, 2013
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 81 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Milder than some versions of classic but still a bit scary.
  • Review Date: December 24, 2013
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 81 minutes





What parents need to know

Educational value

Exposure to Victorian-era England's Christmas rituals, customs, and way of life.

Positive messages

Christmas Carol: The Movie espouses strong messages of the transformational power of soul-searching and reconsidering one's past actions, treatment of others, sense of connectedness in the world, and an individual's capacity for change.

Positive role models

Although some characters seem simplistically bad and others simplistically good, their dynamic nature and their capacity for change makes them more well-developed than they initially seem.

Violence & scariness

The film has little violence but does portray sustained peril and fright as ghosts clank in chains, haunt Ebenezer, and stir up mighty winds and chaos upon entering and exiting. Additionally, the Victorian setting, foreboding music and tone, and bah-humbug attitudes of some characters may be frightening to young children.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Christmas Carol: The Movie is faithful enough to the original Dickens classic in its presentation of peril, hardship, poverty, and the fright of clanking ghosts and scary, mean grown-ups. However, the animation and a few friendly mice make this version a bit softer take that's more suitable for young children. 

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What's the story?

Ebenezer Scrooge (voiced by Simon Callow) is a miserly man who would much rather collect debts on Christmas and throw debtors in prison than rethink his greedy, mean-spirited ways. Everything changes thanks to the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future, and the persistent humanity of ghost Jacob Marley (voiced by Nicolas Cage) and Belle (voiced by Kate Winslet), who conspire to show him the error of his ways.

Is it any good?


Though purists may quibble with some of the liberties taken here in the framing of this story, bookended via live-action sequences of a dramatic reading of the original work, it is largely faithful to the original's plot and message. The animation is competent and reminiscent of late-'90s-era cartoons, and the voice work done by Kate Winslet, Simon Callow, and Nicolas Cage up the movie's overall heft. 

For parents, this is a reliable take on the original that will get the job done, and the potential fright for young viewers likely will be offset by the mice who buffer the ghosts, clanking and haunting their way through Scrooge's life.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about helping others. What can you do to help improve the lives of others who are facing hard times?

  • Have you ever known grouchy people who seem mean or unhappy? Sometimes it's helpful to think about what might have happened to them to shape their personality or experiences and to better understand why people have different dispositions.

  • What would you do if you could see into the future? Would you want to see how your life turns out? Why, or why not? 

Movie details

DVD release date:October 7, 2003
Cast:Kate Winslet, Nicolas Cage
Director:Jimmy T. Murakami
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Book characters, Holidays, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:81 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Christmas Carol: The Movie was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall 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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