A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the main character kidnaps a man at gunpoint and takes him hostage in her car, but the seriousness of the situation (and the absence of realistic repercussions) is offset by the obviously comic tone. A few other scenes involve guns being drawn and aimed, but also in a comedic context. Other iffy stuff includes intermittent strong language (multiple uses of "bitch," as well as "damn" and "ass"), scenes with social drinking (in one, a seemingly drunk elderly woman recklessly backs her car into a tree), a handful of references to sexual activity. But none of this is likely to be new (or particularly shocking) to older tweens and teens.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
This romantic holiday comedy centers on twentysomething Trudie Chandler (Melissa Joan Hart), whose disapproving parents wish she'd grow up, settle down, and get a "real" job. Trudie hopes that bringing her perfect new boyfriend to her family's Christmas celebration will turns things around. When he dumps her, she hatches a desperate plan to save face in front of her family. She kidnaps handsome stranger David Martin (Mario Lopez) at gunpoint and forces him to play her stand-in boyfriend. At first David tries to escape his outrageous predicament, but as time goes on he takes a liking to the warm-hearted family and even begins to understand his misguided kidnapper. Ultimately, David decides to act the role of dutiful boyfriend until he can get away. But as it turns out, the Chandlers' Christmas dinner is full of surprises, not the least of which turns out to be David's true feelings.
Is it any good?
Holiday in Handcuffs is an enjoyable -- if predictable -- romantic comedy. Hart and Lopez are the quintessential odd couple, proving that, at least in the magical world of Hollywood, opposites do attract. They're both professionals, and they do good work here, supported by a strong cast that includes Markie Post and Timothy Bottoms.
And despite a plot that centers on an armed kidnapping and forced captivity, the movie's obvious humor more than overrides any iffy content. Older tweens and teens will easily put Trudie's desperate actions into context -- as well as her good fortune at not facing consequences for the crime. Likewise, the occasional strong language, sexual references, and drinking probably won't be anything they haven't seen before.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's implied messages. Is it ever OK to make light of serious issues like crime and drinking too much? Why do comedies rarely show the guilty party facing repercussions for misguided actions? Do their intentions matter? Why or why not? And do you think all viewers can grasp the humor in situations like these, or would anyone take them literally? Could that be harmful? How?
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