Middleton Christmas

Movie review by
JK Sooja, Common Sense Media
Middleton Christmas Movie Poster Image
Family-friendly holiday teen romance is bland, predictable.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Not judging others, making sacrifices, and the importance of family are strong messages. Standing up to a mildly toxic partner will let you be who you are meant to be and be with who you're meant to be with. 

Positive Role Models

Even though main character Sam is the most popular girl in school, she's kind, cares for everyone, and is generally very decent. She easily stands up to her selfish boyfriend and makes her own decisions even though she's otherwise bland. She falls for Max because she totally isn't bothered by him having to work for a living. Max represents the poor kid role admirably, here with a kind of coolness. He's kind and a good listener. He willingly risks his life giving up his kidney. Every kid at Middleton Prep comes from a higher-income home.   

Violence & Scariness

Little to none. An angry boyfriend yells at Sam for not being on the sidelines cheering for him during a game. A sudden car crash, but brief. Character in a coma. Characters make fun of Max's job as an auto mechanic.

Sexy Stuff

A kiss on the cheek and a long romantic kiss that ends the movie. About Max, Alana tells Sam: "He's cute!" Some guys discuss Sam's looks: "Sam is looking good this year, huh?"  

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Middleton Christmas is a Christmas-themed romance movie. Fictional Middleton is an impeccable and pristine little town full of Christmas glee year-round, immaculate streets and shops perfectly frequented, and lots of Whiteness. Middleton is a heteronormative 1950s fantasy. Everyone is profusely complimentary toward main characters, Sam and her mother, Alana. Everyone has a smile on their face and is perfectly positive. Every kid at Middleton Prep comes from a higher-income home. No one is seen drinking or smoking. There are two kisses, one on the cheek and the other romantic that closes the movie. A sudden but brief car crash cuts to black. A character is in a coma. Characters make fun of someone's job as an auto mechanic. No language. No great diversions from cliche territory, but honestly produced and presented with positive themes of integrity, not judging others, and unity in our differences. 

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What's the story?

In MIDDLETON CHRISTMAS, Middleton Prep High is the center of the world and the students eagerly prepare for Christmas festivities. Fictional town Middleton is picture perfect, and everyone is happy. Popular community leader, Alana (Eileen Davidson), is also Middleton Prep's principal and mother to Sam (Kennedy Tucker), the most popular girl in school. Sam loves to dance, choreograph routines, and make art. Her boyfriend, Lucas (Trevor Stines), is the most popular jock in school. Max (Michael Verde), the new kid in town, has "to work for a living." His father (Michael Pare), Johnny, is hired by Alana to be the school's new maintenance person. But Johnny has a chip on his shoulder and tells Max to stay away from girls like Sam because girls like her will always treat guys like them a certain way. Max disagrees. Sam decides to help making Christmas decorations, posters, and scenery for the school's upcoming Christmas events instead of cheering for Lucas at his basketball game. Lucas gets upset and threatens to break up, but Sam breaks up with him first and races off to tell Max. Car crash. Sam now needs a transplant and gets one from Max, but the surgery sends Max into a coma. Will he wake up to see that he saved the day and Sam's life?

Is it any good?

This Christmas movie is generic and presents an unlikely reality of a perfect town whose only problem is whether not its high school will keep its funding (mentioned twice in the entire film). Middleton Christmas imagines a setting that would be perfect in the imagined homogeneity of the 1950s. The movie presents Max as noble because he comes from a lower-income home, and Sam derides Lucas and his pals for making fun of Max's job as an auto mechanic. But this message is an odd one to center the whole story on. The characters are bland and colorless even though they're all nice and good. Max represents "the poor kid" admirably and nicely, but the character is flat and only present to serve as Sam's love interest and representation of what "good poor" might look like.

There's little drama outside the bone-thin plot: girl falls for new boy, dumps boyfriend, gets in car crash, needs transplant, new boy donates, they recover. And the message of "be good to others even if you think they're different" is fine, but here it feels like watching somebody realize way too late something bad about society and they also miss the point. It feels like watching someone who doesn't like music try to see what this "music" thing is all about, except here rather than "music" it's "hardworking kids from lower-income homes."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the town of Middleton in Middleton Christmas is similar and not similar to their own environments. How might this story be delivered differently in your hometown?

  • What are the main messages and lessons? Do you think the story and characters successfully deliver and teach them? Why or why not?

  • If everything else was the same except the new kid and father in town weren't "poor" but were of a different race or ethnicity, how would the main messages and lessons of the movie seem the same or different? Why?  

  • Who might be the best audience for this kind of story? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

Themes & Topics

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