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 in Wonderland has lots of big-kid and tween appeal from cartoonish mayhem, kids in mild peril, the "wonderland" that is the West Edmonton Mall, and plenty of name-calling. Other strong language includes "hell," "sucked royal cojones," "retard," and "butt." An older brother hints that there is no Santa. Someone speculates that Santa is probably "some drunk from the unemployment office." A kid tells an adult to take his pills. Positive messages are weakly conveyed about the importance of family and believing that things will work out in the end. Negative role models include a fat man who's dumb, sloppy, often eats sweets, and clearly disgusts his cohort; and a villainess in revealing clothing. Most characters are cliches if not downright stereotypes. Everything has a safe resolution, and the kids learn from their mistakes and poor choices.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
CHRISTMAS IN WONDERLAND is about the family of Wayne Saunders (Patrick Swayze), who've just moved from Los Angeles to Edmonton in Canada, where Wayne has a new job. On Christmas Eve, Wayne and the kids head to the mall to do the Christmas shopping and take little Mary to see Santa. While Dad's off shopping, Mary and her brother Brian find a bag full of money that they think is from Santa. Little do they know the money is actually counterfeit, and the crooks it belongs to will stop at nothing to get it back.
Is it any good?
There's a lot of big-kid and tween appeal in this Christmas movie with cartoony mayhem, name-calling, North America's biggest mall, and kids on a spending spree beyond your wildest dreams. Unfortunately, not even the star power of Patrick Swayze or Tim Curry are enough to overcome Christmas in Wonderland's paper-thin, hole-ridden plot, stereotyped or cliched characters, or weakly-conveyed, vague messages about family and belief. And there's just no excuse for what must be the worst computer-generated elves in film history.
The slapstick will appeal to kids who've never seen it done well, and they'll find plenty of laughs throughout. Just be prepared to talk about when humor is mean-spirited instead of genuinely funny, and how calling people names can hurt, because this movie sure doesn't.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stereotypes in Christmas in Wonderland. What is a stereotype? Do any characters seem like real people?
Santa in various disguises keeps telling the Saunders that everything will work out fine if they just have a little faith. Do you agree? How can you tell when to sit back and let things happen or when it's time to do something?
What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? Is this one as good? What makes a classic holiday movie?
- In theaters: November 9, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: December 23, 2008
- Cast: Patrick Swayze, Tim Curry, Carmen Electra, Matthew Knight, Cameron Bright, Chris Kattan
- Director: James Orr
- Studio: Yari Film Group
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Holidays
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: Rude language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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