A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Journey to the Christmas Star (Reisen til julestjernen) is a Norwegian Christmas fairy tale that is overdubbed in English. It has all the classic elements of a fairy tale, including a missing princess, gnomes, a witch, a talking bear, and even Father Christmas. Although it's a fairly clean film with no bad language, references to drugs or alcohol, and very little sexy stuff, there are some elements that might be scary for young children, including an evil witch and a group of street urchins who chase and threaten the main character.
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What's the story?
A kingdom is cursed after a scheming count (Stig Werner Moe) and an evil witch (Agnes Kittelsen) plot to overthrow the king (Anders Baasmo Christiansen), making the princess Goldenhair disappear. Many years later, the young orphan Sonja (Vilde Zeiner) sets off on an adventure to find the Christmas star, which will end the curse and bring Goldenhair home. On the way, Sonja encounters talking animals, gnomes, and other fantastic creatures as the count and witch try to stop her at every turn.
Is it any good?
JOURNEY TO THE CHRISTMAS STAR is a fun and fantastical holiday tale that hits a lot of the right notes. It's dark without being too scary, with fun side characters (such as the gnome Mose) who lighten the mood when it starts to get too intense. It's also visually very well done and wonderfully creates a magical fairy tale world cloaked in winter. If you enjoy fairy tales, you'll love how the film nicely blends elements from traditional tales with Christmas traditions.
The film's main flaw is the overdubbing. If you were to watch it in the original Norwegian, it most likely would be excellent. But the overdubbed dialogue is inconsistent and a bit distracting. Some of the characters' dialogue blends in quite well (as with Sonja and the witch), but other parts are over the top and don't seem to match with the actor playing the part. It's a disappointing distraction in an otherwise lovely film, which will probably annoy parents more than it will kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the mix of fairy tales and Christmas stories in the film. Do you like that they combined the idea of Father Christmas (or Santa Claus) with themes usually found in fairy tales?
What Norwegian Christmas traditions did you see in the movie that are different from your own?
What's your favorite holiday movie? Why is it your favorite?