A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that My Dad's Christmas Date is a father-daughter dramedy about 16-year-old Jules (Olivia Mai-Barrett), who decides to create an online dating profile for her widower father, David (Jeremy Piven), without his knowledge or consent. More a family comedy than a romantic comedy, the movie, which is set in York, England, includes some underage drinking, teens kissing/making out on a bed (clothed), and several scenes of adults drinking at dinners and happy hours. The language is occasionally salty, with uses of "s--t," "bitch," "d--k," and more. Families who watch with their teens can discuss the importance of honesty, communication, and empathy between parents and children.
What's the story?
Set in York, England, MY DAD'S CHRISTMAS DATE is a holiday movie about 16-year-old Jules (Olivia Mai-Barrett), who's tired of her widower father, David (Jeremy Piven), acting sad and lonely two years after the death of his wife/her mom. So she secretly starts online dating profiles for him. Then she pretends she's really interested in spending quality time with her dad at various activities, but it's really so he can unknowingly meet the dates she's set up for him. Meanwhile, Jules is keeping other secrets: She's barely passing her classes, and she's got a boyfriend she's hiding from her father. As David wonders why so many women are flirting with him, Jules comes to terms with her own grief.
Is it any good?
Although this story initially has the potential of a Hallmark movie-style romcom, it's ultimately a bland holiday dramedy about a father and daughter's miscommunications and shared grief. In the opening sequence, there's a glimmer of charm in the banter between dad and daughter. And even the online dating site elicits a couple of laughs as Jules (impersonating David) reads through video messages from quirky potential dates wondering what his Hogwarts house is (as a sign of compatibility), expressing their love of competitive dog grooming, and, as the dates transition to in-person, giving obscure monologues about the meaning of art. This is all clichéd, but it's set at Christmastime in England, so it's easy to forgive the movie's cheesier aspects.
The problem is that there's never really any payoff for all of the formulaic bits. At best, there's a brutally honest conversation between David and Jules, but it's not enough to make for a satisfying story. Jules' best friend, Emma (Hadar Cats), is a welcome source of occasional comic relief (including a funny comment aimed at Game of Thrones fans), and Joely Richardson is underused as David's platonic best friend (and frequent drinking buddy), Sarah. But the the actors' decent performances can't overcome My Dad's Christmas Date's lackluster screenplay and lack of emotional punch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what genre My Dad's Christmas Date is: a comedy, a drama, a romcom? Who's the target audience, and why do you think holiday-set movies are so popular?
What do you think about the way the movie depicts online dating and social media? Is it realistic?
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