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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Love can overcome differences, even in deeply held beliefs. Faith can be a positive thing in people's lives. Kids thrive when adults pay them positive attention. The holidays are about seeing the world through new, grateful eyes and spending time with loved ones.
Positive Role Models
Lisa is a good mom and tries to see past her differences with Tom. Tom is helpful, kind, and optimistic. Assan and Sharon are supportive friends.
The two main characters, a couple, are White. Her best friend is Black, but we don't learn much about her character besides her availability for Lisa. His best friend is Muslim and says he has suffered prejudice as a result, with people assuming he's "dangerous," "evil," or "weird." He compares religious belief to believing in Santa. One snippet of dialogue suggests he's gay, but his sexuality doesn't come up again.
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Violence & Scariness
Kids and parents fall over while sledding. Snowball fights.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing and flirtation, some jokes about mistletoe, including one where a woman says she has a lot of mistletoe for her fiancé in her bedroom. When Lisa first meets Tom, he's helping her daughter, who got lost, and she makes an assumption about him being untrustworthy, or a "creep," just because he's a man.
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"Weiner," "sucker," "frickin'," "lame," "creep," "uppity," "God" (used as an exclamation), "shut up."
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Products & Purchases
Car brands, iPhone, Post-its, duct tape, Barbie. A main character suggests Christmas is just about buying and Santa is about selling. She also works for a magazine whose editor is obsessed with generating clicks and advertising.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine seemingly every night and with every meal. A character appears to be drinking whiskey in one scene.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that I Believe in Santa questions why kids are expected to lose their faith in Santa when they grow up. One character compares believing in Santa to religious faith, which he notes many people carry from childhood into adulthood. A grown man admits he still believes in Santa, and his passion for Christmas nearly ruins his relationship with the woman of his dreams. They date, flirt, and kiss. They are White, and their best friends are a Black woman and a possibly gay Muslim man. Adults drink wine seemingly every night. There's kissing and flirtation, and some jokes about mistletoe, including one where a woman says she has a lot of mistletoe for her fiancé in her bedroom. Language includes "weiner," "sucker," "frickin'," "lame," "creep," "uppity," and "shut up." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Offering a twist on the usual holiday romance, this movie uses a relationship as the premise to question the meaning of Christmas (rather than vice versa). I Believe in Santa's idea that Santa is a global presence who transcends country and religion, and who transforms our world into something magical for a season every year, is given relatively serious debate among characters. On one side is the man who would rather be wrong having faith in something magical; on the other, the woman who thinks that Santa is a lie and has come to represent base consumption. It's almost enough to make you believe, or at least want to.
What's not so believable is the relationship between Tom and Lisa. Real-life husband and wife Ducey and Moore show surprisingly little chemistry in this film. The lack of any genuine desire keeps the film family-friendly but also kind of a dud in the romance department. And the Santa debate could be inappropriate for younger viewers. Religious viewers might take issue with the comparison between believing in Santa and believing in God. Best friends Sharon and Assan seem scripted solely to complement the main characters and provide diversity, as we don't learn much about them, especially Sharon.
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.