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Christmas Ranch

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Christmas Ranch Movie Poster Image
Teen learns about responsibility in holiday horse tale.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 82 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

If you look outside yourself and care about others, you can become a better person. All things happen for a reason.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Liz is a headstrong, sullen 16-year-old whose grades have dropped, a fact her work-obsessed parents fail to notice until her situation rises to the crisis level. Liz takes initiative at her grandmother's horse ranch, which eventually earns the trust and respect of her formerly skeptical parents. Mary is a generous horse farmer who has gone into debt in order to help friends and neighbors during their financial crises.


In action before the story starts, a 16-year-old girl drank too much and caused a fire that did some property damage.



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In action before the story starts, a 16-year-old girl drank too much and caused a fire that did some property damage.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Christmas Ranch features a troubled teen whose parents bring her to Grandma's horse ranch to help straighten her out after a bout of drinking. The girl lashes out angrily but settles down to help train an ailing horse. Issues of community and helping others during times of financial difficulty are emphasized. Cursing is limited to "sucks."


User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHomeschool Momma December 18, 2016

I wanted to like it

I really wanted to like this movie but the main character was snotty, mean and bossy. It was hard to watch the movie when you can't stand the main characte...
Adult Written byRogoco December 1, 2018


The main character is nasty. Hard to get into what is supposed to be a light hearted film when you want to throttle the main character for being a nasty little... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In CHRISTMAS RANCH, Liz (Taylor Lyons) is a sullen and insolent 16-year-old who is being brought from her city home to the horse ranch belonging to her grandmother (Francine Locke) by parents who can't manage her. She feels abandoned and betrayed by them and takes it out on her patient and kind grandmother until she develops a passion for an ailing pony too frail to competitively jump. When she learns the ranch is about to be foreclosed by the bank because of loans her grandmother took in order to assist other local farmers in financial trouble, Liz learns to care for and train the horse in the hope that it will win jumping competitions and earn enough to pay the mortgage. A chaste flirtation arises with a local rancher's helpful son (Allen Williamson). Liz proves she is not a bad kid when her resourcefulness and determination help save the ranch.

Is it any good?

The filmmakers would probably categorize this movie as a family drama, but it feels a lot like a fantasy. Liz manages to put together a huge countryside "Christmas market" in one day, with enough donated goods to earn more than $10,000 from a crowd of buyers manifested, again in only one day, from rural who-knows-where without benefit of any advertising. That haul, it's explained, will pay several months of the farm's unpaid mortgage. Also fantastic is a belief that training an untested pony will miraculously produce a jumping champion that will earn enough in prizes to pay the mortgage into the foreseeable future and permanently save the farm. Equally implausible is the claim that Liz turns off and leaves her cell phone for weeks (!) in a bag somewhere just so she doesn't have to talk to her parents. Few teenagers will part with their phones when Caller ID makes it easy to avoid unwanted callers. That's a lot to swallow. Not that Christmas Ranch is hard to watch. It beats Rodeo Girl, with nearly the same plot and message, and probably dozens of other mediocre but likable movies focusing on troubled youths sent to rural settings where caring for other living things help them mature, behave responsibly, and find happiness.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how easy it is to become tangled up in one's own problems, like Liz does in Christmas Ranch. Why do you think helping other people or animals in need can be a good way to rise above one's own difficulties?

  • Do you think kids might stop caring about school and behaving well if they have parents who aren't around much? Why?

  • How does this movie compare to other horse tales you've seen? How does it compare to other Christmas movies?

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

For kids who love horses

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