Christmas & Co.

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Christmas & Co. Movie Poster Image
French holiday tale has surprising language, drug reference.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

You must fight for those you love. 

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Santa knows a lot about everyone's wish list but not much about how the world works. He wants all kids to get everything they want, but he seems impatient when kids don't listen, when they cry, or when they otherwise misbehave. Weary of the noise of raising kids and the pressures of adult responsibility, Thomas wishes he were on his own, then realizes he loves his family and the responsibility that goes with it. Depressed by his failures, Santa wants to give up, but his love for his wife helps him go on.

 

Violence

Santa falls and hits his head. Police chase two men. Santa is arrested for busting up a pharmacy. A young girl is sucked up into Santa's magical, bottomless basket and can't get out. Her mother thinks she's been kidnapped.

 

Sex

Married people kiss.

 

Language

Given the generally child-friendly subject matter, the use of adult language is odd. The movie is French, and cultural differences may account for this. The following words appear in the subtitles: uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "fart," "t-ts," "weenie," "hell," "screw," "poop," and "jerk."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Santa needs lots of vitamin C to cure his elves. Jay mistakenly thinks his brother is growing marijuana on the roof.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Christmas & Co. is a French family comedy (with English subtitles) that poses the magical question: What would happen if Santa had to come among humans and figure out how to get some vitamin C? He hopes the vitamin will cure his 92,000 elves, who have all come down with an illness that is jeopardizing Christmas and thus the world as we know it. Santa sinks into a depression. He falls and hits his head. Police chase two men. Santa is arrested for busting up a pharmacy. A young girl is sucked up into Santa's magical, bottomless basket and can't get out. Her mother thinks she's been kidnapped. Surprisingly adult language -- "f--k" (once), "s--t" (twice), "t-ts" (once), "bitch," "screw," and "jerk" -- is used sparingly. Jay mistakenly thinks his brother is growing marijuana on the roof.

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What's the story?

In CHRISTMAS & CO., Santa (Alain Chabat) is a genial fellow who runs a tight toy-making ship but can also operate on a whim. Crayons for everyone, he announces shortly before Christmas, to the dismay of his overworked chief elf. At 607, Santa's long been meeting his deadlines, but when his 92,000 elves all collapse with a virus, he must fly down to where humans live and find enough vitamin C to get them all up and running again. He lands his reindeer and sleigh on the roof of Thomas (Pio Marmai), a kind attorney whose kids and wife sign up to help Santa before he misses Christmas. When Santa imagines a world without Christmas, the movie momentarily goes dark and scary. Depressed, Santa quits and loses his magical powers, but that interval ends when he remembers his adored wife (Audrey Tautou) and how much he'd never want to disappoint her. Can Christmas be saved?

Is it any good?

As the movie's writer, director, and lead character, Alain Chabat impresses in all his roles. He underplays Santa, offering a character more like a puzzled time traveler than the ho-ho-ho-er many of us have seen in other media depictions. Christmas & Co feels as if it's been written by a surrealist comedian with dialogue that mimics the style of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on first" routine and at times echoes an absurdist Samuel Beckett play. Santa doesn’t understand much of the way the human world works, and when Thomas and Amelie try to explain the concept of buying and selling to someone whose entire existence is dedicated to giving, the interchange is amusing but also affecting.

Santa's conversations with his reindeer, especially Ralph Laureindeer, seem normal, a tribute to Chabat's ability to create a world and invites us to believe in the magic the movie is selling. Most of it is so clever that you don't mind the occasional seeming contradictions. He's never seen a cell phone, but knows about almond milk and lactose intolerance. And the surprising language and drug reference might put this one on the naughty list for younger kids. Still, there's lots of holiday cheer here for older kids and their families.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about this Santa's mixture of benevolence and impatience. Why do you think he can't understand the concepts of "buying" and "selling"? Do you think it's better to give than to sell? Why?

  • In Christmas & Co., Santa says he loves kids, but has only seen them sleeping when he delivers gifts.  How does he feel about them when he encounters disobedient, whiny children? What surprises him about kids?

  • How does Santa seem a bit like a kid himself sometimes? Do you think the filmmakers did this on purpose? Why or why not?

  • Why do you think there's cursing and a drug reference in a holiday movie for kids? Would the movie be as enjoyable without these elements?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

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