A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Christmas spirit is powerful, and people need Christmas to remind them of how good they can be. You have to believe in yourself the way those who love you believe in you. Families need to stick together, work together, help each other through difficult times. Brief, iffy message about gender when Kate complains that older brother Teddy says skateboards aren't for girls. Iffy body-image messages from Santa, who resents being portrayed as fat.
Positive Role Models
Santa has gruff exterior but genuinely cares about Kate and Teddy, all children. He'll do what it takes to save Christmas, prevent world from becoming more violent, chaotic. He's willing to bend rules, be a little naughty for good cause. Teddy has let anger, grief rule his emotions, has started down criminal path: He and friends hot-wire/steal a car, he ignores responsibilities at home. Eventually he learns not to give up on himself, to let go of his anger. Kate is still a true believer in Santa Claus; her belief, determination make those around her better people. Plenty of reckless behavior (e.g., climbing up telephone pole, driving stolen car and being chased by police) form part of the adventure.
Violence & Scariness
Teddy throws shoe at Kate's head; she reacts to the pain very briefly. A fight between Kate and Teddy involves shoving, scuffling, knocking things over, breaking a picture frame. A bad guy threatens Santa with a baseball bat. A scuffle with bad guys has elbowing, shoving, brandishing of heavy pipe. Fantasy violence includes fight between bad guys and elves with cartoon-style punches, kicks, mayhem. An elf threatens Teddy with a chainsaw. Crimes such as armed robbery, money laundering, and grand theft auto mentioned. Some scariness from characters in danger from falling, crashing, being burned, car and sleigh crashes, and almost being hit by an airplane.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple kisses. A musical number featuring "Santa Claus is Back in Town" has slightly sexualized background singers, women jailed seemingly for prostitution whose clothing magically becomes Santa-style dresses; the song as performed by Santa also has some mild sexual innuendo.
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"Hell," "damn," and "dammit." A kid almost says "s--t." Rare calling names includes "moron."
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Products & Purchases
A Sony video camera. Junk food like Cheez-Its, a regional ice cream brand, and Yoo-hoo. Some name-brand toys like Hot Wheels and Star Wars.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Christmas Chronicles is a holiday adventure movie starring Kurt Russell that has enough edgy content to make it best for tweens and up. Characters do risky things like steal cars and climb telephone poles. Strong language includes a few uses of "damn" and "hell," plus insults like "moron." A kid almost says "s--t." The main characters are grieving the loss of their father, a firefighter who died saving others, during their first Christmas without him. A boy starts to tell his younger sister that there's no Santa but doesn't go through with it. Violence is mostly cartoonish mayhem, with no serious injuries, blood, or gore shown, but viewers will see punching, shoving, knocking down, and characters brandishing a baseball bat and a chainsaw. Characters are in danger, and Santa's CGI elves are cute but sometimes scary, too. A rock-and-roll musical number has slightly sexualized background singers and some innuendo in the way the song is performed. Holiday messages are mostly about how it wouldn't be Christmas without presents and Santa Claus, but positive themes include family unity and believing in yourself. The movie also sends the idea that it can be OK to do something naughty (even illegal) if it's for a good cause. Santa is portrayed with a gruff exterior, but he cares about the kids and will do anything to save Christmas. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This Christmas adventure has lots of kid appeal and excitement in a quest to save Christmas, but iffy behavior as well as dealing with parental loss make it best for tweens and up. The Christmas Chronicles features Hollywood veteran Kurt Russell playing a gruff Santa who doesn't do "ho, ho, ho!" and who doesn't like being portrayed as fat. But viewers old enough to handle the iffy messages, language, and themes of grieving will enjoy watching Kate and Teddy win him over. Director Clay Kaytis puts his CGI animation experience to good use, especially with the elves. They have a distinct look and sometimes an almost gremlin-like edginess that might be a bit scary for little kids, and some of the scenes seem like a bit of a marketing ploy designed to make kids want to collect them all. But tweens and up can appreciate them as refreshingly distinct from the usual visions.
It's easy to imagine producer Chris Columbus as having an influence over the inventive imagining of Santa's workshop and how to get there. The jailhouse rock-and-roll number feels gratuitous and ineffective as a way to spread Christmas spirit, but you could argue that a rock number like that is logical for something coming out of a holding cell. Parents and grandparents may enjoy looking for familiar faces in the band, as well as the inside-joke actress in a cameo as Mrs. Claus. It may not be an instant classic the whole family can enjoy, but tweens and up will enjoy the excitement and adventure, with a happy ending that wraps things up nicely.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.