Small Town Santa

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Small Town Santa Movie Poster Image
Low-budget tale has worthy messages, lots of stereotypes.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 85 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Family togetherness, the willingness to change your attitude, being thankful, believing in miracles, and the importance of relationships over gifts are good values.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most parents are engaged and present; others who are critical or nasty have a change of heart to some degree. Some boys egg a house but are caught and punished. A town drunk steals a baby Jesus to get arrested on purpose for the free meal and warmth of jail. A wife refuses visitation for her daughter with her ex-husband out of spite. A mother-in-law criticizes her daughter's husband. An alcoholic decides to stop drinking.


A man pulls a gun on an intruder but doesn't fire it. A man jokes he will beat another man with a baby Jesus statue if he doesn't stop talking.


A woman peruses a bodybuilder magazine with a scantily clad man on the cover. A man and woman kiss a few times.


Some insulting language, such as "stupid." Some phrases that imply profanity without using it by stopping mid-sentence, such as "What the ... " and "stick it up your ... ."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Woman drinks wine in a few scenes and seems inebriated. A man discusses quitting drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Small Town Santa features divorced parents who bicker in front of their daughter over visitation during the holidays. A child says she is "too old to believe in Santa," which may upset kids who still cling tightly to the belief. Santa spends a large part of the film in jail, and the film plays to other small-town stereotypes, such as the town drunk, nasty ex-wife, and boozy, critical mother-in-law. Overall, it's a family-friendly movie with positive messages about the redemptive spirit of the holidays.

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What's the story?

Sheriff Rick Langston (Dean Cain) has plenty of reasons to be a grinch this Christmas: He has a bitter ex-wife and a daughter, Alana (Sophie Bolen), whom he never sees; and he's hoping to leave this small town where no crime ever happens. But when an intruder shows up in his house on Christmas Eve claiming to be Santa, he gets a chance to rethink his attitude and relationships for the better and starts to see the holidays for what they really are.

Is it any good?

SMALL TOWN SANTA is a low-budget affair, and it plays to a lot of small-town stereotypes to get the job done. It's not particularly well acted, though fans of Superman may enjoy seeing Dean Cain in the role of the sheriff. Young kids may not be quite ready for some of the post-divorce bickering or blasé attitude about Santa, who spends most of the film working his magic from a jail cell. But overall, there are some positive messages here about the serendipity of little miracles, letting go of grudges, and making the connections with others that are so difficult to do the rest of the year, with the added bonus of reinforcing the idea that this is the point of the holidays and that people should value these relationships over gifts.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what the holidays are really for. How does your family celebrate them?

  • Santa helps the characters get the relationships they want. If you could have relationships instead of gifts for Christmas, what would they be? 

  • How does the film portray divorced parents? Do you think this is an accurate depiction or something you only see in the movies? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

Themes & Topics

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