A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Saving Christmas (2017) is a live-action tale that finds a middle schooler, his little sister, and his best friend setting out to prove that there is a Santa Claus. Coming up against the traditional school bully and an array of other kids who have given up their belief in the jolly elf, Danny will not be denied. The bullying is frequent, and consists of insults (e.g., "nerd," "jerk," "loser," "bonehead"), intimidation, and physical threats, including brandishing a paint ball gun. A fistfight results. The climax is a "professional" wrestling match with all the traditional throws, slams, and punches. Expect some rude language (e.g., "crap," "butt"), the occasional gay stereotype, a dog farting, and a reference to reindeer poop. Familiar messages -- "Incredible things happen to those who believe" and "Never give up" -- are stressed. A routine entry in the "let's save Christmas" genre.
What's the story?
Middle schooler Danny (Jack Brunault) from Norpole, Maine, is a tech wizard who still believes in Santa Claus when SAVING CHRISTMAS (2017) opens. It's his family's first Christmas without their dad, which makes Danny determined to cheer up his little sister, Jennifer (Lindsay Blanchard) -- who, still grieving, has become a Christmas cynic. Bullied by a popular boy from school because of his "childish" belief, Danny vows to use his scientific know-how to prove the existence of the holiday icon. With only his equally nerdy best friend, Matt (Max Harris), and sister Jennifer at his side, Danny confronts multiple obstacles on his quest, not the least of which is the relentless bully. It's tough for three kids seeking "the truth," especially when they realize that Norpole's own local toy company may be an outpost of Santa's North Pole empire.
Is it any good?
If one can get past the inept direction, script, performances, and even music placement, there's still a routine, generic, poorly conceived story left to let audiences down. The movie has a particularly cruel prank pulled on the wholesome little girl who has recently lost her dad. And our hapless hero's response to bullying is the traditional punch in the face. It's sad to see Edward Asner, a fine actor, simply going through the motions in this production. And what can one possibly say about the silly wrestling match that looks as though it was shot in a three-car garage? Saving Christmas (2017) has little to recommend it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this film handles the issue of bullying. What does Danny do to stop Roger's aggressive behavior in Saving Christmas (2017)? What are other, more effective ways to deal with bullying?
Why do so many stories for kids include families recovering from the death of a parent? Do you think this is an easy way to elicit sympathy for the leading characters? What other reasons might there be for creating a story with only one parent?
What was the reason(s) for the inclusion of The Gingerbread Brawl in this story? In what ways, if any, was the wrestling match important to Danny's quest? If it didn't really play a part in the story's resolution, why do you think the filmmakers included it?
- On DVD or streaming: November 21, 2017
- Cast: Ed Asner, Jack Brunault, Patrick Muldoon
- Director: Tom DeNucci
- Studios: Lionsgate, Grindstone Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Holidays, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild language and some thematic elements
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.