Cliché holiday movie has kid appeal, inclusive messages.
  • Review Date: July 30, 2014
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages

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.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
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.

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.

Parents say

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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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 29, 2011
DVD release date: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, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Switchmas was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old February 27, 2015
age 6+

Not the Best.

This is pretty much good for all ages. Nice holiday story. Mild bullying and drinking and language.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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