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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
References 1900 in American South: costumes, sets, some characterizations.
Strongly values doing the right thing even at some personal cost. Promotes persistence when fighting for a righteous cause. Advocates hope and resourcefulness in pursuing goals.
Positive Role Models
Feisty young heroine persists in breaking rules, manipulating the truth, and risking her own well-being to live up to her ideals and to accomplish an admirable goal. Adults, rigid and unyielding at first, learn to bend and reappraise their stand in favor of a good resolution. A Native American character is a stereotype.
Violence & Scariness
A few shadowy, suspenseful scenes as girls sneak into a mysterious attic and hear bumps in the night. Girl suggests a whipping of 10 licks as punishment; it's administered off camera, and she reacts afterward.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas is the third in a series of movies based on the Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard. Leppard's heroine, in more than 40 works published between 1983 and 2004, is a girl born just before the turn of the 20th century in North Carolina. This story works as a stand-alone tale but provides few clues about Mandie's history and family background. Nor does it tell the audience how Mandie arrived at Miss Heathwood's School for Girls in 1900. The story is part mystery, part tale of deeply held prejudices, and part coming-of-age drama. Mandie spends a few suspenseful moments in a mysterious attic and more time breaking school rules. A girl suggests a whipping of 10 licks as punishment; it's administered off camera, and she reacts afterward. The film promotes doing the right thing regardless of the consequences and being stubborn and resourceful when the cause is just. A Native American character is a dated stereotype. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Good intentions and a terrific, natural performance by Kelly Washington as Mandie cannot save a weak, contrived script and slow-paced, lifeless direction in this addition to the Mandie series. The messages are sound -- thinking for oneself, taking risks to right a wrong, and refusal to accept prejudice -- but they're given such a weak platform that they have no resonance. The "forgotten Christmas" element never pays off. The would-be antagonist's backstory, which is supposed to explain her behavior, has no bearing on the current dilemma and never accounts for her illusive attic. The depiction of the Native American uncle of the heroine is both offensive and inauthentic. While some performances are solid, others are substandard. Worst of all, the movie lacks logic, motivated behavior, and any semblance of reality no matter what the year.
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.