Dad, son switch bodies in flimsy, predictable holiday comedy
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that despite the story's obvious plotting and stereotypes, Christmas Trade will appeal to kids who enjoy watching the comedy that comes from likable characters switching places and inhabiting each other's bodies. There's more than a bit of "redemption" involved -- there's even some magic -- and at the core is a young boy and a dad dealing with grief after the death of their mom/wife. There's some mild profanity ("pissed off," "crap," "butt," "pee his pants"), and, in several scenes, a man-hungry single mom makes not-so-subtle advances toward the adult hero (though in some cases, it's the son in the man's body who has to contend with her behavior, which includes "tongue action"). The story includes some bullying, a horrendous shrew of a female boss, and plenty of the comic pratfalls and mix-ups that come from trading places. And, at its heart, it's a Christmas tale, with tried-and-true messages that come with the season.
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What's the Story?
'Tis the season to be jolly, only days before the holiday in CHRISTMAS TRADE. Mitchell Taylor (William Baldwin, who attempts full-tilt 11-year-old when he exchanges bodies with his son) has an obnoxious boss who demands much more of his time than single-father lawyers should have to give. He's bordering on workaholic, which is sad because Robbie (Michael Campion) has a bully to deal with at school, and he hasn't completely recovered from the recent death of his much-beloved mom. Robbie needs Mitch and finds his dad preoccupied and distant no matter how hard he tries to secure more time and attention. And Chloe (Denise Richards), the new lady in Mitch's life, would like to spend more time with him, too. When a strange vintage teddy bear, with erratic lights and a weird voice, shows up at the Taylor front door, it's a "be careful what you wish for" moment -- Robbie and Mitch are suddenly switched, so dad becomes boy and boy becomes dad. Misadventures are not far behind the teddy bear. Bullies, bosses, and blunders combine to make the last few days before Christmas at Robbie's school and Mitch's office a catastrophe.
Is It Any Good?
The actors are game, but a derivative story, obvious outcomes, and top-to-bottom one-dimensional characters make this film a pale imitation of beloved body-switching movies from the past. Every move is expected, every situation taken from Column A or Column B. No surprises here, no twists the audience can't see coming. Still, no matter how amateurish and unoriginal, it's a genre that kids like. It's always fun to watch an 11-year-old boy in an adult man's body struggle not to gag when a beautiful seductress puts the moves on him. And how great to see Dad, now in the persona of a young boy, take on the bully that everyone else is afraid of. Basically harmless, except for the awful female stereotypes, it's OK viewing if none of the other stellar movies with this concept is within reach.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the appeal of movies that show adults and kids switching places. What is it that makes them fun? If you were to imagine yourself trading places with a parent, a teacher, or someone you admire, what do you think you might learn about them?
Look up the term "suspending disbelief." How would that apply to this movie? Are you always willing to suspend your disbelief? If your answer is no, why not?
Do you agree with the way Mitchell (in Robbie's body) handled Francis, the bully? What did Mitchell learn about his own situation at work from his experience with Francis? Did or didn't he apply what he had learned in dealing with his boss?
- On DVD or streaming: November 3, 2015
- Cast: William Baldwin, Denise Richards, Michael Campion
- Director: Joel Souza
- Studio: Cinedigm
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Holidays
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 21, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
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Groundhog Day, holiday style.
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Touching, hilarious Jennifer Garner romcom.
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A lewd, loveable comedy for teens and up.
For kids who love the holidays
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