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 Eve is an ensemble holiday dramedy with several well-known actors (including Patrick Stewart, Jon Heder, Cheryl Hines, and Gary Cole) that's set in New York during a single memorable night when a blackout strands six groups of people in elevators overnight. There's almost no swearing (some jokes related to the term "private d--k," referring to a detective), violence, or sex (some flirting and a kiss), but some of the themes (layoffs and firings, for instance) may not resonate with younger viewers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
It's CHRISTMAS EVE in New York, and everyone is in a rush to get where they have to go -- until an unexpected blackout strands six groups of people in elevators. Some are strangers, some are old friends, and over the course of the night, they all have the chance to learn a few important things about each other and themselves. The large ensemble cast includes some big names, including Patrick Stewart, Jon Heder, Cheryl Hines, and Gary Cole.
Is it any good?
Ensemble holiday films have become fairly common, but it's a tough formula to nail, and Christmas Eve is one for which the struggle is real. The setup offers some promise: six groups of people, stuck together overnight with nothing to do but learn more about each other and, in the process, perhaps something about themselves. Viewers also gradually come to realize that certain characters in each group are connected to someone in another elevator.
The problem is that we don't always come to care about these people. It's just the acting that's to blame; Cole stands out as a doctor with a badly injured patient, and Heder does well as a just-laid-off office drone. But the script is thin. Stewart's solo scenes as a dictatorial boss don't give him much room to grow, while members of a classical music ensemble (who already know plenty about each other) seem to make personal vows that feel forced. And a few other characters don't have the necessary rapport to make their segments compelling. When done well (see: Love Actually), ensemble holiday movies can become staples. Christmas Eve likely won't.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the characters in Christmas Eve change over the course of the movie. Which stories did you find most believable? Which were the most touching?
Which holiday movies are your favorites? Why?
- In theaters: December 4, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: November 1, 2016
- Cast: Jon Heder, James Roday, Patrick Stewart, Cheryl Hines
- Director: Mitch Davis
- Studio: Amplify
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Holidays
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some peril, thematic elements and language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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