Holiday in Handcuffs

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Holiday in Handcuffs Movie Poster Image
Older kids can take romantic comedy's iffy stuff.
  • NR
  • 2007
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 10 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Despite committing serious federal offenses (theft and kidnapping), the main character faces no repercussions for her actions. A man's homosexuality is handled maturely. The main character experiences self-affirming personal growth when she finally expresses her true feelings to her domineering parents.


A woman kidnaps a man at gunpoint, ties and blindfolds him, and takes him against his will to her parents' house -- but there's an obviously humorous tone to the process, and the gun is only fired once, accidentally (the shot shreds the car's interior). A few other scenes also show guns being aimed, but again the situational comedy is obvious.


One scene shows a man and woman in skimpy costumes, presumably engaged in foreplay. Multiple references to sex and sexual attraction. A man confesses that he lied to his girlfriend so she'd sleep with him.


Occasional use of words like "bitch," "ass," "damn," and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink beer and wine in several scenes. An elderly woman is cast as a heavy drinker; in one scene, she recklessly backs her car into a tree. One brief scene shows a woman smoking.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycutie06 April 9, 2008
Parent of a 6, 8, and 11-year-old Written byfaith4jesus April 9, 2008

I enjoyed it. But wouldn't allow my kids to see it

I personally enjoyed the movie. I have been a fan of Melissa Joan Hart & Mario Lopez since I was a teen so it was fun to see them in a movie together.... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byaidanjfreeman May 30, 2019

Wild Justification of Felony

This movie attempts to justify kidnapping someone at gunpoint. That's all you need to know. Horrible message, bad acting.
Teen, 16 years old Written bySnowman__1632 December 11, 2014

A Somewhat Family Movie

Its has a theme of kidnaping but overall good with little sex references.

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate