The Christmas Bunny



Tearjerker wraps emotional themes in spiritual message.
  • Review Date: October 31, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The idea that vulnerable creatures -- both animal and human -- need love and care is the main message. The necessity of proper and responsible care of rabbits (and pets in general) is shown throughout the film. The power of prayer during tough times is also upheld throughout the film. 

Positive role models

The mother of the Cooper family shows tremendous patience and boundless love with the foster child Julia, who clearly suffers the emotional scars of being raised by a drug addicted biological mother. Julia is taught responsibility and a bit about believing in herself by the rabbit expert, Betsy Ross, who helps Julia come out of her shell a bit.


While not shown in the moment, Rumple the bunny is shot by a BB gun early in the film, and the viewer's first sights of Rumple is in the snow, injured. When Rumple is later taken by Derek, the bratty son of the Coopers and put on a makeshift stunt sled, Julia tackles him, punches him several times and bites his wrist until she draws blood. 

Not applicable

A character uses the acronym "BS." 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

During a Christmas dinner party, two characters stand outside and smoke cigars. In a flashback scene, Julia recalls her mother -- already acknowledged by everyone to be a drug addict -- coming home late one night to the hotel where they are staying, stumbling and acting surly and incoherent before passing out in the bed. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this tearjerker of a holiday drama deals honestly with the heavy themes of adoption, child neglect, and the frustrations of unemployment. Aside from the emotional weight of the film, the content is very mild, with some religious themes. Viewers who are sensitive to endangered animals might be disturbed by the numerous scenes of injured or neglected bunnies, who have been rescued by a determined caretaker.

What's the story?

Julia (Sophie Bolen) is sent to her third foster home in six months. Her biological mother is a drug addict, and their only bond is a VHS tape of The Velveteen Rabbit, which Julia watches obsessively. She is taken to the Coopers, a family struggling to make ends meet. When they attend a Christmas dinner in the lavish new home of Uncle Chip, the Cooper's son Billy receives a BB gun as a gift; he immediately runs outside with the gun and accidentally-on-purpose shoots a rabbit in the leg. A bond immediately forms between Julia and the rabbit (which she names Rumple, in one of the only times she speaks), and this bond grows as they take Rumple to an eccentric "bunny lady" named Betsy Ross (Florence Henderson) who teaches Julia the responsible care of rabbits. From here, the Coopers must learn to have faith in God and themselves that their luck will improve, and Julia must learn to trust her newest family.

Is it any good?


In its portrayal of the impermanence of foster children's living situations, of the frustrations and difficulties of the long-term unemployed, and the responsibilities of caring for animals, THE CHRISTMAS BUNNY does not take the easy way out like other "holiday/cute animal" movies might. Each of these issues is dealt with honestly and realistically, and the story itself manages to stay engaging if somewhat predictable. 

As the eccentric hermit "bunny lady" Betsy Ross, Florence Henderson seems to be having some fun in a very un-Carol Brady role. As the foster child Julia, Sophie Bolen broods and sulks silently from one scene to the next, and while it's easy enough to understand the reasons for her profound withdrawal, one wishes there could be more to latch onto with the character besides a monomaniacal obsession with "The Velveteen Rabbit" and bunnies. That said, tough-skinned kids might enjoy the hint of hope that peeks into Julia's life as the family surrenders to faith and the child slowly learns to trust.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the responsible care of animals. What are the day-to-day chores and responsibilities that go into taking care of a pet? How does the media influence the popularity of certain pets or animals?

  • How realistic are the economic conditions portrayed in the movie? Kids: How has your family been affected by tough economic times? How can the lack of money or financial security affect a family's day-to-day life?

  • Which parts of the movie pack the most emotional punch? How do movies convey certain emotions to viewers? Is it the characters, the acting, the music, etc.?

Movie details

DVD release date:November 1, 2011
Cast:Colby French, Florence Henderson, Sophie Bolen
Director:Tom Seidman
Studio:Screen Media Films
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Friendship, Holidays
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic material, brief smoking

This review of The Christmas Bunny 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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Adult Written bycommonparent December 4, 2011

Not suitable for Children!! Common Sense Media leaves out a lot from it's review.

Well, after reading this review by Common Sense Media, I will never trust their reviews again. Maybe they failed to actually watch the movie before rating it. They failed to mention under violence that the girl's birthmother comes home drugged or drunk and slaps the heck out of her because she is still awake and the mother, who is dressed like a hooker, wants the bring her John inside obviously to make out with him. Then the mother passes out on the bed and the boyfriend starts yelling and banging on the door to get in. The little girl is traumatized by this as she is unable to wake up her mother as the boyfriend continues to bang on the door. Then there is the scene where the 2 boys take the rabbit and put it in a baby carriage and push it down a snowy hill and further traumatize the little girl. And the totally unnecessary information by the foster care worker that the birth mother was arrested for "solicitation" as well as drug abuse. I bought the movie for my 8 year old, but after viewing it alone, I have decided against showing it to her. The totally unnecessary inclusion of material like the above reduces it to so much less than it could have been and renders it unsuitable for children in my opinion. And Common Sense Media completely fails to mention such content in its review. Which is why I will no longer trust their ratings. No sex?
Adult Written bymonkeymoney February 10, 2012

mixed feelings

I love this movie because: 1. I like bunnies 2. have a good massage 3. almost a perfect movie for a family afternoon. Well, my problem is with the movie, that there is a wonderfull story for kids but it is not really suitable for a chilren age like the kinds in the film. Bunny, Xmas, level of emotions, a 'grandma' age friend, ect are no doubt, for kids. But the slot-like mother is a little bit to much. I believe kids not really understand these scenes. Especially the scene when the mother ad-hoc boyfriend knocked and cried at the door... what is not in the movie, but what has happened? is he broked in and raped the mother or the kid? because seems to like me that that was the point when the little girl shocked. So one part this is a movie for family with young children but it is not really ok for them; it is suitable only for older ones but in this age they are just out from this kind of films.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Adult Written bytina.joyeuse December 18, 2011

Deals with intense situations but has an excellent message.

I love this movie. A father turns to God in his time of need. A loving family welcomes an emotionally damaged girl into their lives. A little girl becomes "real" by opening up her heart to a lost rabbit, then to a family that loves her. This movie deals with intense situations. It is a slap in the face with real-world drama. A girl comes from a terrible home of neglect with a mother who is a hoar. She is placed in a foster home where the mom shows her only love and compassion. The foster father is welcoming but apprehensive. He doesn't know if he really wants the quiet, emotionally-damaged girl around their son. The father is an out-of-work engineer and he is frustrated with the family's financial situation. This movie provides an excellent introduction to rabbit care. Children of any age will love the scenes inside the rabbit rescue, but most of the movie is not suitable for young children.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex


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