A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Family can be complex but also a strong support. Working through anger from the past is essential to move on with the future. Being together is more important than creating the perfect environment. In the words of one character: "You can't control people or the things they do, all you can control is the way you respond."
Positive Role Models
The older mother and father of the family are kind and caring, though harbor some secrets and there is mention of affairs. The father adheres to some stereotypes by becoming involved with a much younger woman who herself is wide-eyed, bubbly, and seen to be not particularly intelligent. Their daughter from the original marriage, Caroline, is dedicated to providing the perfect family Christmas but becomes highly anxious and loses sight of the importance of togetherness in the process. Other characters fall into some stereotypes, such as the successful but snobbish fashion editor, the studious academic, and the tearaway youngest sibling, none of whom are much developed beyond that.
Some gender stereotypes are shown, such as the mother being uptight and the father laid-back. Also women take on domestic duties while men do tasks such as fixing the electrics. A family member comments that her lesbian sister comes out every Christmas but never provides "proof," which is a damaging attitude to uphold. Sexuality is expressed across age groups, from the younger adults in the family to the parents and grandparents, though there is some negative reaction shown by by the younger family members when mentioned. Characters are mostly White, with one Black member of the group, whose race is not mentioned nor is it explicitly made a part of his character.
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Violence & Scariness
A character is punched in the face though not seriously injured. A hunting rifle is held but not fired. A character faints on to the floor but is unharmed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There is sexual innuendo throughout. Mild flirtation and kisses on the lips are shown, and there is the implication of sex off-screen on a number of occasions, though no nudity or actual sexual activity is shown. There is a seduction scene with a character in a "sexy nightdress," but it is played purely for humor. One character is seen tied to a bed in their underwear the "morning after." A character is seen topless from behind in the shower.
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Frequent language includes "s--thead," "bloody," "t-ts," "damn," "turd," "cruddy," "bitch," "godforsaken," "hell," "sod," "crap," and "dammit." British slang includes "tosser" and "shag." "Knockers" is used when referring to breasts.
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Products & Purchases
The movie takes place in a large and grand mansion. The brand Rolls-Royce is mentioned on a number of occasions and one of its vehicle is shown on-screen as a coveted item. A platinum card is waved around at a village fair and there is mention of money in terms of how much items cost.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters frequently drink alcohol with meals and in bars, including wine, beer, and spirits. Characters are seen to be intoxicated and one character has a hangover.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Father Christmas Is Back is a Christmas comedy best suited for teens and upwards, due to its innuendo, implied sexual content, frequent alcohol consumption, and use of some strong language. Starring Elizabeth Hurley, Kelsey Grammer, and John Cleese, the story focuses on the coming together of an extended family one Christmas, which in turns reveals some long-held secrets. The family is made up of a number of stereotypes and portrayals of traditional gender roles. This includes the bookish academic, the rebellious youngest sibling, and women taking on all the domestic chores. Language is frequent and includes words such as "s--thead," "crap," and "bitch." There is frequent drinking with characters on occasion becoming drunk. There is farcical humor, moments of warmth, and festive celebrations including the singing of Christmas carols, a Nativity play, and a village fair. All of which makes it a fairly gentle Christmas movie with little to offend. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A starry cast adds a little extra sparkle to what is otherwise fairly standard, though enjoyable, Christmas fare. Father Christmas Is Back has all the elements: a Nativity, carols in the pub, a local fair, as well as the arrival of unexpected guests, family tensions, and disasters that threaten to cancel Christmas. The actors -- both veteran and lesser known -- ham it up for full farce, but there are times when performances don't quite gel.
Quentin is reliably warm and funny as the family matriarch, and Grammer surprisingly brings more warmth than comedy as the misunderstood patriarch -- a particularly touching scene with his granddaughter adding much needed fuzzy feelings. Hurley does a solid job of poking fun at herself, playing a version of her media personality, and John Cleese channels years of experience as the slightly off-kilter country gent. While Cox goes full caricature in the central role, proving a little hit and miss within the tone of the movie as a whole. Stereotypes abound generally within the family and the Christmas setting, lacking the originality to temper the feeling that we've been here before, and many times at that. But it's an easy watch that will do little to offend and might just get you into the 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.