Sweet Christmas sequel has positive messages, mild peril.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Prancer Returns is a sweet family Christmas sequel with a few instances of bullying and a couple of dangerous scenes. Charlie (Gavin Fink) is a young boy who, upon hearing a local legend about one of Santa's reindeer visiting the town, believes he has found Prancer's son in the woods. An incident leads to Charlie running away, spending the night in the woods alone, where he sprains his arm. Bullying includes knocking someone's hat off and intentionally getting someone into trouble -- but the perpetrators learn the error of their ways. There is also a scene where someone fires a shotgun into the air and animals are shown in distress with one later dying. Charlie's family has recently been through a divorce and they struggle to readjust but learn to adapt. There are plenty of positive messages about teamwork and helping others, and Charlie is a great role model. But there are also some gender stereotypes and a lack of diversity within the cast. With a simple plot, likable actors, and sprinkles of Christmas magic, this should appeal to kids and families around the festive season.
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What's the Story?
In PRANCER RETURNS, eight-year-old Charlie (Gavin Fink) finds a young deer in the woods and believes it to be the son of Santa's reindeer Prancer, who, legend has it, visited the town 10 years before. But not everybody believes in Christmas miracles, and Charlie must find a way to keep the reindeer safe until Christmas Eve, when he can take his place pulling Santa's sleigh.
Is It Any Good?
This sequel has much the same storyline as the original, but is a little more lighthearted and easy to watch. While the central family still have their problems, Prancer Returns has fun and humor, with likable actors adding warmth to the rehashed story. The events of the original have here become the stuff of legend in the small town, making the transition clear, though viewers won't need to have watched the first film to enjoy this follow-up. There are plenty of Christmas movie cliches -- a kid who believes in magic and has to convince the adults, mean bullies who change their ways, an older recluse who begins to reconnect, and some cheesy songs about the power of believing. The film's not groundbreaking, but it is incredibly watchable, and families will likely enjoy the kids' antics and the warm messages alongside the snow, sparkle, and festive themes.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Charlie's behavior in Prancer Returns. He often put others first -- particularly the reindeer -- but put himself and others in danger in the process. Did you think his actions were necessary? Can you think of any other, safer ways he might have approached his problems?
Charlie is a good role model who showed courage, teamwork, and empathy during the film. In what ways did he express these? Why do you think these are important character strengths?
Charlie's relationship with his brother changed during the film. How did it show the importance of love over day-to-day teasing and fighting?
The movie is the sequel to 1989's Prancer, which was remade in 2022 as Prancer: A Christmas Tale. If you've seen either of these, how did this film compare? What story elements and themes did they share?
- On DVD or streaming: November 20, 2001
- Cast: Gavin Fink, Stacy Edwards, John Corbett
- Director: Joshua Butler
- Studios: USA Home Video, Universal Studios Home Video
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, Holidays, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Courage, Empathy, Teamwork
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: January 24, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
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