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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film is intended to entertain rather than educate, though there are some messages, such as not to steal or play with fireworks, that have some educational value.
The movie suggests numerous positive messages, but also some stereotypical and potentially damaging ones. It teaches that it's wrong to steal, though robbers do not get any comeuppance. It suggests that individuals are not simply "good" or "bad," and sometimes sadness and loneliness cause people to do bad things. But the film also contradicts this with comments like "bad guys are never intelligent" and "thieves are bad." Love, family, and friends are important, as is taking responsibility for our actions and forgiving others.
Positive Role Models
Robbers Frank and Vince lie, steal, and express selfish behavior, but later show kindness, attempting to protect and take care of the children in the home. The kids have some awareness that people are not just good or bad. But their dialogue also includes very binary moral statements that contradicts this.
The family at the center is very stereotypical, with a mother, father, and two children. All major characters are White and able-bodied and there is no clear attempt to show diverse representations.
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Violence & Scariness
Kids joke about zombies and killers on the loose, and mention firecrackers, weapons, and grenades. An animated character gets food stuck in its throat resulting in the Heimlich maneuver, and others practice martial arts, fall from heights, and faint but are unharmed. Live action characters are armed with baseball bats and a gun but do not use them, and also trip on toys and get locked in a panic room on one occasion. Arrest and jail are briefly mentioned.
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Some use of "damn," "crackpot," "baloney," and "loser," while animated characters are referred to as "big and fat," "boring," and "ugly."
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Products & Purchases
Sacks of presents are shown.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Whiskey is mentioned but not seen or consumed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Christmas Thieves is a festive family comedy with a mix of live action and animation, and some moments of mild peril. The story centers around two children left alone on Christmas Eve who believe a pair of robbers, Frank (Tom Arnold) and Vince (Michael Madsen), dressed as Santa and his elf respectively, are their babysitters. There are some positive messages about behavior, but also some sweeping statements about people either being good or bad. Very mild peril includes kids being locked in a panic room, baseball bats and guns held by adults, and animated characters choking and falling. Frank and Vince are shown to have both positive and negative attributes, beginning as selfish but softening to show concern for the children. The kids express some bad behavior, such as screaming until they get their own way, but are mostly thoughtful and kind. There is infrequent use of terms such as "damn" and "loser," as well as some negative language in the animated sequences. Whiskey is mentioned but is never shown being drunk. There is a strange disconnect between the animated and live-action scenes adding to an overall muddled feeling. But it may appeal to younger kids who enjoy cute animated characters and the idea of Santa on screen. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Combining animation and live action can be a tricky challenge. Christmas Thieves is no exception with the film flipping between the two, never really acknowledging the place of the animation within the story, or, in fact, giving the animation much of a story of its own. Arnold and Madsen are enjoyable enough as the bumbling thieves. But films featuring criminals dressed as Santa and his elves have been seen a million times before, and there's no new injection of magic here.
The animation itself may appeal to younger viewers, with its wide-eyed animals and slapstick antics. But its simplicity, in terms of both visuals and storyline, will likely lose the attention of older kids. All the elements are here -- family separated at Christmas, thieves dressed as Santa, a storybook coming to life -- but they are so lightly linked together the film threatens to run out of steam, even in its short 77-minute running time. It concludes with an ending that feels disjointed, lackluster, and one that offers up very little Christmas spirit.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.