A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this holiday special from the Good Luck Charlie crew is an entertaining watch for just about anyone, but it's best appreciated by fans of the show who are already familiar with the characters' idiosyncrasies. The story steers the focus away from the commercial aspects of Christmas and toward the emotional fulfillment that comes with spending quality time with loved ones. Expect some true-to-life bickering among family members as the stresses of the holidays mount, but it's all tempered by unlikely scenarios, a hefty dose of humor, and a round of happy outcomes. This laugh-out-loud movie is a jolly addition to the holiday TV season and definitely worth considering for your family.
What's the story?
It's days before Christmas, and the Duncan family is prepping for a trip to sunny Palm Springs to spend the holiday with Amy's (Leigh-Allyn Baker) parents. Emotions and anxiety run high as Amy tries to come to terms with the breaking of traditions, Bob (Eric Allan Kramer) declares war on a troublesome bargain item meant to simplify traveling with young Charlie (Mia Talerico), and Teddy (Bridgit Mendler) pleads her case for an unchaperoned cross-country trip over spring break. In an attempt to prove her independence, Teddy offers up her seat on the plane to score a free ticket for the later trip, and Amy reluctantly follows suit to make sure she's all right. The move sets in motion a series of mishaps that seems bound to keep the family apart at Christmas, but Amy and Teddy manage to creep westward by bus, car, and the kindness of strangers to reunite with their loved ones. Meanwhile, Bob, Charlie, and the boys try to keep the peace with the in-laws until the girls show up, but even that might require a Christmas miracle.
Is it any good?
Good Luck Charlie fans have reason to celebrate this holiday special, which hones in on the most appealing aspects of the popular sitcom and glams them up for the festivities. Amy's frazzled nerves, Bob's fumbling efforts to hold things together, and the kids' determination to chart their own courses are the catalyst for the movie's plentiful funny moments ... and that's not even counting the impish toddler who throws their lives into turmoil at every turn. In other words, there's no shortage of laughs in this merry movie that will appeal to parents almost as much as it does their kids.
Happily, there's also a heartier side to the story, one that reflects what parents (if not their offspring) hold dear through the holidays. This is a kid-targeted movie that spends two anticipatory hours building up to Christmas but makes no references to gifts, stockings, or even Santa. Instead, the focus is on the family, and rather than fighting crowds for the must-have toys of the year, these family members are racing the clock just to spend time with their loved ones. Feel-good messages nestled within the movie's shiny packaging -- plus a few Christmas surprises -- make this one to add to your family's watch list. If nothing else, it's a great way to shed the stress of the season by getting some laughs at a different family's dysfunction.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about communication. How do you handle situations in which you don't see eye to eye with someone else? How does a difference of opinion cause stress between people? Is honesty always the best policy? How is this issue explored in the movie?
Tweens: What did you think of Teddy's request to travel cross-country without her parents? What freedoms do you enjoy now that you're older that you didn't when you were a kid? What responsibilities accompany this independence? What are the consequences if you don't fulfill your obligations?
What are your favorite parts of the holidays? How do your family's traditions reflect your ethnic heritage or faith? How does your family express the spirit of giving?
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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.