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Holiday in Handcuffs



Older kids can take romantic comedy's iffy stuff.
  • Review Date: December 6, 2007
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

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."

Not applicable
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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:November 19, 2007
DVD release date:October 7, 2008
Cast:Mario Lopez, Markie Post, Melissa Joan Hart
Director:Ron Underwood
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Adult Written bymom2girls 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. My 11yr old asked if she could watch it but I decided against it. The fact that a girl is kidnapping a guy, it had a little bit of sex talk in it and the drinking wasn't something I wanted her to see. If she was a little older though it would be ok as long as we talked a bit afterwards.
Adult Written bywomack93 April 9, 2008
I was very disapointed that this was another attempt to aim a Christmas movie at younger viewers and have issues that they are not ready to handle. For the Family Channel it was surprising. I think they could have made this a very good film for the whole family without all the sexual overtones that is had. Parents should be warned that this is a movie with topics that need to be discussed openly.


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