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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Santa's Apprentice is a 2010 animated movie about a young boy in a Sydney, Australia, orphanage who is chosen to be the next Santa Claus when the current Santa Claus retires. For parents with younger kids, some of the talk of a bullying kid not believing in Santa could raise some questions. The bully of the orphanage steals toys and treats and calls other kids names such as "loser," but later in the movie Santa Claus employs empathy to confront the boy on the reasons behind his bullying and what he might do to be nicer. Also, the bully's last name sounds very similar to the words "green crotch." The movie also addresses issues of orphan children missing their parents and follows a young couple who have adopted a boy and have since fallen on difficult financial times. Overall, this is a creative and entertaining take on the Santa Claus story.
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What's the story?
When Santa reaches retirement age, he must find a worthy successor to be SANTA'S APPRENTICE. A worldwide search leads to an orphanage in Sydney, Australia, where a kind young boy named Nicholas (Nathan Simony) is chosen based on his remarkable kindness and selflessness. Nicholas is taken to the North Pole, where he undergoes the challenges of being an apprentice to Santa Claus, learning how to make toys but also making mistakes such as accidentally burning Santa's beard off. But in this same orphanage where Nicholas came from is a young bully also named Nicholas, and this Nicholas wants to be Santa despite his hatred for everyone around him and his bullying ways. When Santa and Nicholas return to the orphanage, the bully Nicholas tries to confront the apprentice Nicholas, even going so far as to steal the magic ball Santa uses. It's up to Santa to stop the bully Nicholas, to convince the Sydney police -- after taking Santa to jail -- that he is in fact Santa Claus and not an imposter, and to adopt his apprentice Nicholas and perhaps even find a new line of work as an orphanage caretaker once he retires from the North Pole.
Is it any good?
Sometimes the movie seems like it tries to tackle too much with the limited space and time allotted. But on the whole Santa's Apprentice does have a lot to offer, especially for families looking for new twists on familiar Christmas themes.
It may be difficult at times to get over the fact that all the kids in an orphanage in Sydney, Australia, have American accents. Overall, though, this is a thoughtful and creative take on the familiar Christmas themes of Santa, toy-making in the North Pole, and the Christmas spirit of giving. There are moments of silliness, but there are also more serious messages, such as when Santa, instead of giving a bully his "just desserts," employs empathy to explain to the boy why he lashes out at everyone around him. This feature also attempts to show the challenges of adoption when a child is adopted from the orphanage and his new family faces economic hardship.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Christmas movies. How is Santa's Apprentice similar to other holiday movies, and how does it present creative twists on familiar themes?
What are some of the ways in which this movie addresses more serious topics such as bullying and adoption?
So many movies and TV shows feature a "bad guy," but there's rarely any attempt to understand why he behaves the way he does. In one scene Santa uses empathy to understand why the orphanage bully behaves the way he does. Why do you think empathy is rarely employed by the good guys to try to make sense of what the bad guys do, especially on kids' shows?
- In theaters: January 19, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: December 20, 2015
- Cast: Julie Gayet, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Lorant Deutsch
- Director: Luc Vinciguerra
- Studio: The Weinstein Company
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Holidays
- Character Strengths: Humility
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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