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 Puppy is a 2011 movie that does not have a single puppy in the movie. The only presence of a dog is an aged Maltese with an obnoxious voiceover from time to time. This is because the movie was originally called Christmas Spirit, but was changed, perhaps to take advantage of pet lovers looking for something to watch during the holidays. While the message of selfless giving and charity is a worthwhile value to impart in a movie, there are already so many Christmas movies out there that show this value in action, and do it much better. Also, the way the teen boy Riley helps the family he has never met to believe in the Christmas spirit again is by sneaking in the back of their Malibu mansion and pretending to be a friend of the teenage daughter. This movie is a bizarre mess.
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What's the story?
When Riley's mother (Maureen McCormick) must work late hours in the days and nights before Christmas in order to keep from being laid off, the teen Riley goes to bed having lost all of his belief in the magic of Christmas. The next morning, he is greeted by a Christmas spirit named Hope (Vanessa Angel) who sends him on a mission to reclaim his Christmas spirit, as well as the spirit of a family living in a Malibu mansion who are equally low on Christmas cheer. After sneaking into the back of the mansion and hurting his arm, Riley is taken in by Winnie (Alexandra Paul), a writer of children's books who assumes he is a friend of her daughter Allison. Winnie has writer's block, her husband Paul is distracted with tough times at work, and Allison is a moody teenager who wants Riley to help her get back at her parents for not being there for her. It's up to Riley to find a way to make everyone believe in the magic of Christmas again, while also bringing their family back together, and keeping his mother from getting laid off.
Is it any good?
This movie has a hilariously strange premise, the inevitable result of lazy direction and slipshod writing. For starters, there are no puppies in CHRISTMAS PUPPY; the closest approximation is an elderly Maltese who makes rare appearances, and even then, seldom leaves its cushion, and sometimes narrates the events in an incredibly annoying voiceover. Moving right along, there is something more than a little creepy about a teen boy who basically breaks into a home and earns the trust of a family under criminally false pretenses, and is put up to stealing the father's credit card in order to book a flight for the grandmother living in Michigan.
The actors try to make the best with what little they've been given, and their commitment to the utter ludicrousness of the scenes is borderline heroic, but overall, this movie is a horrible Christmas cocktail of trite, boring, and nonsensical.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Christmas movies. How does this movie compare with other movies about the spirit of Christmas?
Why do you think they changed the title of this movie to A Christmas Puppy, and changed the cover of the packaging to be a picture of a cute puppy who isn't even in the movie?
What are some other Christmas movies that encourage the audience to live the ideals of Christmas giving and charity?
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