Dear Santa

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Dear Santa Movie Poster Image
So-so holiday romcom has some innuendo.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 90 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Messages about charity not only during the holidays, but all year.

Positive Role Models & Representations

One of the lead characters runs a homeless shelter. Lead female character learns to see the importance of kindness and selfless behavior over shallow materialism. Homeless characters shown to be people down on their luck rather than the typical stereotypes. 


Gay character describes lead male character as "edible." "Plowing" used as double entendre. Brand of lip gloss the lead female character is wearing is identified as "Lip Gloss in Orgasm." 


Infrequent profanity: "goddamn," "damn." At a skating rink, mean girls make fun of the lead character's old clothes. 


Burberry mentioned by name. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Margarita drinking, beer drinking. Eggnog in blender shown getting spiked with whiskey at Christmas party. Champagne drinking while out to dinner. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dear Santa is a 2011 holiday romcom in which a rich young woman's life changes after finding a letter to Santa from a little girl who asks for a new mother for Christmas. There's some sexual innuendo: The lead male character who runs a homeless shelter is described as "edible" by the effeminate and somewhat stereotypical gay man who works as a cook in the shelter, and there's also mention of "plowing" as a metaphor for sex, and the lip gloss the lead female character wears is named "Lip Gloss in Orgasm." At a Christmas party, eggnog is shown being spiked with a bottle of Jack Daniels. Plus, there's margarita, beer, and champagne drinking, as well as infrequent mild profanity ("damn"). There's also verbal bullying by young mean girls at an outdoor skating rink: The girls make fun of the lead character for wearing out-of-date and old clothing. 

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What's the story?

In DEAR SANTA, Crystal (Amy Acker) is a materialistic 30-year-old living in New York City, living on her parents' money and spending her time shopping and going to parties. Her mother, having had enough of Crystal's aimlessness, has just told her that she's to be cut off from her monthly allowance and must find some direction in life. One afternoon while shopping, a letter to Santa accidentally dropped by a postal worker blows in front of her. She opens and reads the letter. It's written by a little girl named Olivia, who asks Santa for a new wife for her widower father. Inspired to help, Crystal finds Olivia's house and discovers that Olivia's father, Derek, runs a snowplow removal business while also running a homeless shelter. Crystal enters the homeless shelter and is immediately put to work serving food to the less fortunate. While clearly smitten with Derek, she befriends him, and while there seems to be a mutual attraction, Derek is on the verge of getting engaged to his cold and possessive girlfriend, Jillian. In spite of this, Crystal bonds with Olivia and grows to love working at the shelter. Meanwhile, Derek is faced with an eviction notice for the homeless shelter: He needs to come up with $10,000 or the bank will foreclose on the property. When it's revealed to everyone that Crystal has been less than forthcoming about her past and that she entered the lives of Derek and Olivia under questionable circumstances, Crystal must prove that her intentions are pure, that her priorities have changed since working in the shelter, and that through the miracle of coming across Olivia's letter to Santa, she's the perfect match for Derek. 

Is it any good?

This is one of those predictable romantic comedies set during the holidays, with the expected Christmas miracles and message of love always managing to find a way. Amy Acker comes across as sweet as she transforms over the course of the movie from NYC trust fund party girl to dogged defender of homeless shelters, widowers, and little girls with selfless Christmas wishes, but there's no getting around the fact that the characters are as stock as you can get. Besides Crystal's character, there's the token effeminate sassy gay man dishing out sage yet catty wisdom, the cold-as-ice current girlfriend who just isn't right for the male lead character, and the aforementioned male lead character, who is ruggedly handsome, sensitive, altruistic, and down on his luck.

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Dear Santa is that it does try to imbue the homeless characters with a certain dignity, humanity, and personality rather than relying on typical representations of homeless people in movies -- that is, as little more than pathetic wretches grateful to receive any act of charity, no matter how small. Nonetheless, the movie never really tries to venture very far from the tried-and-true conventions of this genre. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about holiday romcoms. Why do you think romantic comedies set during the holidays hold an appeal for some audiences?

  • How does Dear Santa depict homelessness and homeless people? 

  • Who are some of the typical secondary-character types in romantic comedies? Who are they in this movie? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

Themes & Topics

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