A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Social-emotional take-aways about the value of loved ones and the importance of perseverance.
Positive messages throughout, but the biggest is aimed at parents: Our time with our children, our family, and our friends is the most valuable gift we get from life. Other prominent messages include: "Success is how you make a difference in the world through your own ups and downs," and "shine your light where others can't see."
Positive Role Models
A Salvation Army Santa has a bright, positive outlook despite facing notable challenges, and he uses his time to help others to find their way to a better path. A boss is firm, but patient, level-headed, and understanding. After grinchy, self-absorbed Connie starts to realize how her priorities are out of whack, she puts all her time and energy into her children and into helping others.
A key character is a Black athlete with artificial limbs who's dedicated to his life to service; he's played by real-life role model Blake Leeper, a Paralympian. Connie is a successful and savvy shipping company executive, a field that appears to be male-dominated. Her longtime assistant, Brooke, is a forthright Latina (Emily Tosta, who's from the Dominican Republic). Other supporting characters are a mix of racial backgrounds; some are depicted positively and others less so. A cancer patient and her family are portrayed with compassion. A middle-aged White male CEO is depicted as a level-headed manager who cares about the people who work at his company.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Connie and her husband have separated and plan to divorce, and there's negative talk about marriage, but the ex-couple might still have a spark.
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Rare strong language includes one use of "s--t" and "oh my God!"
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Products & Purchases
A vacation rental company is featured positively, and the length of time on screen indicates likely product placement. A couple of other brands are mentioned, like Hermes, but are there more to define characters, sometimes in a negative way.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Holiday Twist is a light-hearted Christmas comedy with positive, if heavy-handed, messages about the value of spending time with those we love. Main character Connie (Kelly Stables) is a mom with no work-life balance: It's all work, all the time. But thanks to a lot of holiday-movie chestnuts, she's reminded of the importance of using her time on earth in a way that enriches others' lives, not just her own bank account. And scene-stealing Santa Rex -- a Salvation Army bell ringer with artificial limbs who's played by advocate/world-record-holding Paralympian Blake Leeper -- demonstrates the power of perseverance. There's very little iffy content ("s--t" and "oh my God" are used, but sparingly), and familiar TV singers James Maslow (Big Time Rush) and Haley Reinhart (American Idol) perform enjoyable musical numbers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It would be a stretch to call this Christmas comedy good, but its good intentions are obvious. First-time writer-director Stephanie Garvin clearly has her heart in the right place, but whether she's trying to hit a bingo-card's worth of Christmas movie cliches with a knowing wink or is unintentionally being derivative isn't unclear, there's just waaaaaay too much going on. There's an angel and a Santa who change the perspective of a disillusioned protagonist, bumbling thieves (Neal McDonough, Brian Thomas Smith) who break in to steal Christmas presents, a grinchy person whose heart grows three sizes in one day, a soaring original holiday song, and, of course, a Christmas miracle.
While Garvin needs to work on story structure, her dialogue is entertaining. And it's elevated by Stables, whose cheery, chummy delivery makes even her cattiest comments come off as cute, helping viewers see Connie's potential and root for her to get her priorities straight. An interesting cast has been assembled for the film, and while not everyone in it should pursue more acting gigs, they all do offer something special to the film, from an incredible singing voice to a glimpse of real-life inspiration. Overall, this is a ho-hum holiday rehash, but still, thanks to the positive messages and a fantastic closing number from Jake Miller with choreography by Abby Lee Miller (Dance Moms), there's a warm-cup-of-cocoa feeling about the whole thing that's hard to shake.
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.