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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The gossamer-thin premise of the special is that Santa needs Mariah Carey to boost Christmas spirit, which is lagging in 2020. She rises to the occasion, of course! Spirits brighten, and Mariah delivers words of encouragement to see us through the winter months, such as "In the darkest moments, life surprises you with what it brings," and "it’s been a really hard year, but I’m so grateful we can be here together in this moment. And together we can celebrate love and light… which is what Christmas is all about."
Positive Role Models
The gameness of Mariah with her guest stars and dancers has a "let's put on a show!" vibe that's warm and glittery -- did you expect anything less? Though it was shot in 2020 and references the dark time, there are no specific mentions of the pandemic and no masks are seen.
Violence & Scariness
Subtly acknowledges the pain that 2020 has inflicted on people worldwide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Carey's costumes are very snug, revealing, and over-the-top, with plunging necklines that reveal lots of cleavage.
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Products & Purchases
Getting Grinchy here: Mariah Carey has cornered the market on Christmas music since her now-classic "All I Want for Christmas Is You" was released in 1994. A companion soundtrack (Carey's third Christmas album) was released on Apple Music the same day that the special dropped on Apple TV+. The sparkly red phones that connect Carey and the North Pole are iPhones.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mariah Carey's Magical Christmas Special caps a year of celebrating the diva's 30th anniversary of her 1990 debut album. The undisputed Queen of Christmas (her "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is one of the bestselling songs of all time) stars as herself and a close friend of Santa, who needs her help boosting seasonal cheer in a challenging year. Carey leaves her New York apartment, where her two real-life kids and actress Mykal-Michelle Harris (as "Little Mimi") are depressed about a cheer-free holiday, to help Santa (an off-screen male voice ushers them away so Carey can take a direct call from the North Pole on her red crystal-encrusted iPhone). Santa never appears in the special; instead actor-comedian Billy Eichner handles communication with the singer and keeps her apprised of her impact on worldwide Christmas spirit. In the 43-minute special, Carey sings 11 songs and makes no fewer than seven sparkly costume changes that show off her curvy figure. Many are very snug with plunging necklines that reveal lots of cleavage and a few are cropped right at her buttocks. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The Queen of Christmas delivers exactly what Mariah Carey fans want in for the holidays: 11 familiar songs, seven-plus costume changes, and whistle tones that could shatter glass. The gossamer-thin story of Santa (whom we don't see) relying on Carey to generate Christmas spirit sounds a lot like the Elf plot, but the pleasure of seeing Billy Eichner (as Santa's secretary) running around frantically and delightedly interacting with Carey makes up for any redundancy.
The story does seem shoehorned into the gaps around the songs that take center stage in this production. Particularly confusing was the presence of young Mykal-Michelle Harris from Mixed-ish as "Young Mimi" in scenes with Carey's real-life children Moroccan and Monroe. Is she supposed to represent young Carey? Is she supposed to be a friend who has nowhere to be on Christmas? Don't think too hard about it -- just enjoy a sparkly, shiny, 43 minutes of songs, dancing, mild humor, and holiday cheer.
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.