Christmas with a Capital C

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Christmas with a Capital C Movie Poster Image
Heavy-handed drama about keeping the Christ in Christmas.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 81 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Religious tolerance, kindness to those we disagree with, persistence in sticking by your values, trying to see the opposing point of view.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are fairly simplistic but earnest. Adults are engaged, present, and well-meaning, aside from one opportunistic character seeking revenge for old wounds. Children are well-intentioned, kind, and moral. 

Violence
Sex

Very minor flirtation between a teenage boy and girl.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Christmas with a Capital C is a Christian movie that features a small town fighting to keep the Christ in Christmas, in spite of an injunction to make the language and displays of the city's holiday celebrations more inclusive. It's essentially an answer to the idea of a "War on Christmas," with a clear agenda to promote the Christian point of view. There's nothing inappropriate here for kids, but much of the film's plot and discussion involves debating how to get around the legal loophole and still celebrate Christmas just as they always have, and it heavily promotes the idea that saying "happy holidays" is not something you do for religious tolerance but rather it's an idea "God haters" have promoted to get rid of religion altogether. Best for older kids and not for anyone looking for a truly balanced look at how believers and non-believers could coexist.

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What's the story?

The town of Trapper Falls, Alaska, has been celebrating Christmas the Christian way for over 50 years. But since former resident Mitch Bright (Daniel Baldwin) has returned to town -- now a big-shot, atheist lawyer with a clear agenda to take the Christ out of Christmas and run for mayor -- the townspeople aren't sure what will happen to their beloved traditions. But before the current mayor Dan Reed (Ted McGinley) and his family can find a way around Bright's scheming, they have to reexamine their beliefs and ideas about what tolerance really means.

Is it any good?

CHRISTMAS WITH A CAPITAL C is a movie that won't matter much to you that it's well shot (it is), well acted (it mostly is), and well intentioned (it totally is). What will matter in a movie with an agenda this obvious is which side of this argument you're on, and if you're on the wrong one, it will be hard to enjoy it or be moved much. It sets out to be a film about tolerance and the true spirit of Christmas, and on some level, it accomplishes this. The Christians in the movie find a way around a legal loophole preventing them from celebrating only Christmas by acting in good faith -- with kindness and good acts, they strategize, they can still show others what Christmas is all about, even if they have to say "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas." 

It's the portrayal of the other side that docks points in this film's misguided attempt at balance. Here, the atheist character is not a reasonable, morally good non-believer whose point of view has merit but an embittered, lonely, grumpy, opportunistic weasel nursing old grudges, a "God hater." What might have been a heartfelt look at how we can incorporate multiple perspectives and still appreciate our fellow man is instead a film that takes a shortcut at having to truly grasp another point of view and, instead, makes an easy scapegoat out of its opponent. It chooses only to preach to the choir -- and succeeds.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how we celebrate the holidays. Does your family celebrate Christmas? If so, how? If not, what do you do during the holiday season? What do your other friends or family members do?

  • Do you think there's a way to participate in the joy of the holidays even if you're not religious? What does that look like?

  • Does this film portray two fair but opposing points of view? Why, or why not? How are Christians portrayed in the film, and how are atheists portrayed? Which group is made to look more tolerant and good? How could the film have portrayed these groups with balance? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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