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Christmas in Wonderland

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Christmas in Wonderland Movie Poster Image
Christmas mayhem at the mall has stereotypes, rude language.
  • PG
  • 2007
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Things will work out one way or another; you just have to have faith that they will. Family is the most important part of Christmas.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wayne Saunders is a good role model for a father who's trying to do his best for his family in the face of financial uncertainty, and he models love and care for his kids. The boys learn from their mistakes and model resourcefulness, bravery, and eventually caring and family unity. Mary Saunders is a highly-idealized sweet girl who models faith, love of family, keeping an open mind, and is also brave and kind. Very poor representation of a fat man who's dumb, slovenly, and always eating sweets. Villainess Ginger is a bit sexualized with tight, slightly revealing clothing. Mom Judy and Danny's love interest Shane are positive female role models, although Shane is first seen in a bikini, which is what attracts Danny in the first place.

Violence

Cartoonish mayhem, threats, and police that kick a door in and ransack a house. A kid hits a bad guy with a backpack. Characters frequently in mild peril. Some scariness that's resolved safely involving a ghost and a wolf.

Sex

A married couple kiss briefly. A woman in revealing clothes and a sexy walk turns men's heads. A teen in a bikini coming out of a pool is briefly objectified but becomes a positive character.

Language

Variations of "sucked royal cojones" repeated several times. "Hell" and "butt." Lots of rude name-calling like "retard," "pus ball," and "snot rag." A fat man is told that he's a garbage disposal with feet. A real store called "fcuk" is briefly visible.

Consumerism

Most of the movie takes place in the West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America, and it's got a lot of kid appeal with an amusement park, wave pool, etc. Lots of stores briefly seen in the background without any really standing out.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A short scene takes place in a bar where Wayne has a beer and talks with Santa. Brian speculates that Santa is probably "some drunk from the unemployment office." A kid tells an adult to take his pills.

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.

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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?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love the holidays

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