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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This Belgian-Dutch film can open conversations about its setting and language, as well as discussion of how holiday traditions compare around the world.
It's possible to move on after losing a loved one and to still keep them in your heart. Families take care of each other. Christmas is about finding and celebrating the light, no matter how dark it gets.
Positive Role Models
Suzanne does what she can to move her family forward after losing her husband. She can't spend as much time with her kids as she (and her worrying mother) would like because she has to work. Her tween son struggles during the holidays on the one-year anniversary of his father's death. He finds companionship in his dad's dad, who also needs his help, and he demonstrates selflessness in helping his grandpa. Suzanne makes friends at her new job and they band together against a nasty boss to save the company.
The film is set in Belgium. The mother's coworker and potential love interest is of Arab descent, judging by his name and appearance. A scene refers to "Madam President" of the US.
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Violence & Scariness
A family lost a loved one in an accident. A teen girl lost part of her leg in a different accident. A grandfather falls and hurts his shoulder, winding up in the hospital. A boy is magically transported to faraway locations, where he finds himself in the middle of an ocean or on a busy street in front of moving traffic.
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In English subtitles: "God," "crappy."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The families toast a holiday meal with a liquid in champagne glasses.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the Belgian-Dutch film The Claus Family turns on a boy who discovers he must carry on a tradition inherited from his recently deceased dad and his ailing grandfather: being Santa. But the boy is grieving his father and hates Christmas. That context could feel sad for some viewers, though the film never gets too heavy and has very positive messages about being there for family and moving on despite an important loss. A teenage friend embodies this when she reveals her own loss from an accident, and multiple generations of the starring family care for one another in a variety of ways. A repeated line involves finding the light in darkness and the ability to fix what is broken. A boy is magically transported to faraway locations, where he finds himself in the middle of an ocean or on a busy street in front of moving traffic. 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 Belgian Christmas tale is pleasant without being exceptionally entertaining, and heartwarming without igniting any particularly strong feelings. Some humor falls flat in The Claus Family, especially involving elves meant to be goofy but who border on irritating. The drama in the family dynamics of a working widow and her two kids, who are still grieving their dad's accidental death, is more convincing. But the film is uneven, some dialogue and performances land awkwardly, and a subplot involving the mom's cookie-factory job feels superfluous. Special effects on miniature elves and a magical snow globe that transports Santa around the world look surprisingly old-fashioned, but the cobblestoned town setting is very pretty.
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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.