We think this movie stands out for:
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square is a family holiday musical with Christian themes and some emotionally difficult scenes. The most distressing is when a little girl who has already lost her mom in an avoidable car accident gets into a life-threatening accident herself. At her hospital bedside, her father sings a sorrowful song about presuming he'd go first but understanding if she needs to go be with her mom. In another flashback scene, a teen girl's pregnancy is kept secret and her baby taken from her against her will at birth and put up for adoption. A song called "Wicked Witch of the Middle" is sung by the local townspeople about all the ways they would hurt or potentially kill the main character. The words are violent, but the scene is meant to be funny. The unofficial leader of the notably diverse town is the local pastor, named "Christian." The film carries Christian messages about the truth of the Bible, faith, hope, the work of angels, and the value of prayer. Dolly Parton plays an angel who's training a younger angel to earn her wings by helping an embittered and misdirected woman find love and joy again. The angels and humans demonstrate compassion. Couples kiss and discuss fertility treatments, and language includes "BS," "damn," "stupid," "witch," "hell," and "devil." A character has a whisky at a bar that a young girl is attending while her dad is out. The next morning, she's awoken on the living room couch, where she says she fell asleep after a "rough night" (and we see another empty glass on a coffee table).
- Parents say
- Kids say
There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the story?
Regina (Christine Baranski) is a successful businesswoman who owns the majority of land in her hometown of Fullerville, Kansas in DOLLY PARTON'S CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE. Following her father's death, and eager to cut all ties to the town, she announces plans to sell the whole area to a developer to build a giant mall. The townspeople will be evicted from their homes and businesses on Christmas Eve. But before this happens, Regina is visited by a guardian angel who wants to help her find love and joy again, just in time for the season of giving.
Is it any good?
Everything Dolly touches seems to turn to gold, and Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square is no different. There's a scene where Baranski's Regina looks down her patrician nose at Angel Dolly's rhinestone-encrusted platform boots and utters, "tacky." It's hilarious and telling at once: a comment on the coastal elite's view of "Middle" America (and maybe Dolly herself), city vs town, cosmopolitan vs country. True enough, if you can't take the shiny surface -- the genre-hopping musical numbers, jazz-hand dancing, small-town sweetness and Christian messages -- then this movie could be a tough watch for you.
If you can look beyond the rhinestones, the film has a much deeper and harder-edged story than the intentionally old-fashioned, It's a Wonderful Life-inspired packaging would suggest. The film is at turns sad, funny, silly, and inspiring, just like Dolly's tell-it-as-it-is song lyrics often are. (A benefit of this being a Netflix film is the possibility to play it with subtitles and read all the lyrics.) There are angels perched on clouds and prancing pastors and postmen, but there are also teen pregnancies, forced adoptions, lost loves, dead parents, fertility treatments, hospitalized children, and dire medical diagnoses. An especially moving scene has the world-weary and bitter Regina bond with a wise-beyond-her-years little girl who helps tend her daddy's bar. The two sing "life is not a fairy tale," a lyric that could easily serve as the film's tagline.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the parable of the lamp lighter told in Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square. What is the lesson of the story, and why does the angel tell it to Regina?
What aspects of Christian faith are on display in this film? Do you have to be a believer to enjoy this movie? Why or why not?
A line warns the town isn't "wonderful" and you aren't "George Bailey." Did you get this reference? How could you figure out what it refers to?
How do different characters demonstrate compassion? Why is this an important character strength?
- On DVD or streaming: November 22, 2020
- Cast: Dolly Parton, Christine Baranski, Treat Williams
- Director: Debbie Allen
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Musical
- Topics: Fairy Tales, Holidays, Music and Sing-Along
- Character strengths: Compassion
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 19, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love the holidays
Find more movies that help kids build character.
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch