By Andrea Beach,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Cliché holiday movie has kid appeal, inclusive messages.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids will learn a Yiddish word for "family" ("mishpucha") and hear parts of a Hanukkah song. They'll learn that many of their favorite Christmas songs were written by Jewish people and that Jews also wrote, directed, and wrote the music for the classic movie White Christmas.
The spirit of Christmas is for everyone. Make the world you want to see, meaning that you have the power to make things happen and you should strive to make the world the place you want it to be.
Positive Role Models
Ira Finkelstein at first thinks all he wants is to experience the magic and joy of Christmas, but he soon realizes that what he really wants and needs is to be with his family. He deals with the local bully effectively and without violence, and his sense of wonder and good nature help bring a family going through difficult times closer together. He's smart and resourceful, directing a bunch of kids in a heartwarming holiday musical. The parents shown are a strong and positive presence who sometimes get too distracted with grown-up problems, but all model loving concern.
Violence & Scariness
The town bully, Jack the Jerk, menaces Ira with a throat-slashing gesture, throws Ira's menorah in the trash, stomps on his gingerbread house, and sets his dog on Ira. Later we glimpse his home life with a bullying father who berates and shoves Jack. The situations are resolved safely and nonviolently, and Jack eventually has a change of heart.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mrs. Wilson mentions that Mr. Wilson is waiting in the bar. Mr. Wilson is depicted mixing and then drinking a cocktail at dinner. A character is shown drinking a martini and behaves drunkenly: Her appearance is disheveled and her makeup smeared, she slurs her speech, and her emotions are heightened and exaggerated.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Switchmas presents very little to worry about. A character is shown drinking a martini and behaves drunkenly. There's some bullying in the form of chasing and destroying property, which is safely resolved, but a scene in which a father berates and shoves his son, who appears to be about 12, ends without resolving anything when the father goes back into the house. All other adults and kids are good role models, and the movie conveys positive messages about the importance of family and the inclusiveness of holiday spirit.
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Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
When the Finkelsteins have to cancel their plans to spend their winter holiday in the snow, they decide to send their son Ira, who's obsessed with Christmas, to stay with his grandparents in Florida for a week. During a layover in Chicago, Ira meets Mikey, another kid traveling alone who doesn't want to spend his vacation with his cousins in Christmastown, Washington. Since neither kid has seen his family in years, they decide to switch places so each boy will get the holiday he wants. It looks like Ira's finally going to get the Christmas of his dreams, until he realizes too late that all he really wants is to be with his real family again.
Is It Any Good?
SWITCHMAS has a good heart and positive, inclusive messages about Christmas. Kids will enjoy the classic "old switcheroo" story, but adults and teens will have a hard time getting past the clichés: Yes, the kids put on a big show to save Christmas; and yes, there's a bully (whose story line feels like a manufactured attempt to create drama). Kids also are unlikely to be bothered by the production's flaws. Most of the child actors are creditable, but a few are painfully self-conscious. A couple of CGI dream sequences have a low-budget look and grating, saccharine music. The overall production quality has a made-for-TV feel just a notch or two down from an original series on Disney or Nickelodeon.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why holidays are special. What are your favorite holidays, and how do you celebrate them?
What are some of your favorite holiday movies? Do you think this one is as good as your favorites? Why, or why not?
Ira puts on a play called "Christmas Is for Everyone." What do you think that means? What about Christmas is for everyone?
- In theaters: October 29, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: October 30, 2013
- Cast: Elliott Gould, David Deluise, Elijah Nelson
- Director: Sue Corcoran
- Studio: Von Piglet Productions
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Holidays
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: November 21, 2022
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