A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this spirited holiday story is based on a popular kids' book that's packaged with its own shelf-sized elf, so if your home doesn't already have one, it's a good bet your kids will be clamoring for one after they tune in. The story centers on a boy who doubts the existence of Christmas magic (and, by association, Santa), but the story's evolvement leaves little doubt in that regard. This delightful tale is a great addition to families' holiday TV traditions, and viewers of all ages are bound to enjoy its vibrant display of Christmas fanfare and feel-good emotions that reflect the season.
What's the story?
THE ELF ON THE SHELF follows the adventures of Chippey (voiced by Brendan Dooling), a novice scout elf from the North Pole who's assigned to the McTuttle home to keep tabs on the behavior of 9-year-old Taylor (Michael May) and his twin sisters, Kendyl (Evie Eikhoff) and Caroline (Julia Walters), so he can report back to Santa each night. Taylor's skepticism about Christmas makes him a tough assignment, and when he drains Chippey's magic by touching him (a cardinal no-no when dealing with elves), Chippey fears that he's failed his new family. But Christmas magic has a way of doing the impossible, and with a little faith from Taylor, holiday spirit might just change Chippey's fortune.
Is it any good?
What began as a simple Christmas tradition for one family has blossomed into a best-selling book that has now inspired what's sure to become a new addition to kids' holiday must-see list. Look past the modern CGI animation and you'll find a timeless story that deserves a place among the classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Viewers who are familiar with the book will love how this movie stays true to it, incorporating aspects of the story and the illustrations even while it expands on the tale by following an individual elf's journey to a home of his own.
There's a commercial tie-in to be considered, since the book cover is visible throughout the movie and one scene shows Chippey being boxed up with a copy of the story to be shipped out to his family. If you've already adopted your own family's elf, this will just enhance your kids' excitement about their magical visitor, but if you haven't, it's probably going to make them want one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the holidays. What are some of your family's favorite traditions during the holidays? How do you incorporate aspects of your culture or religious beliefs into them? What do you think is the true meaning of Christmas?
Kids: Was anything about this movie's presentation of the North Pole different from that of other specials you've watched? Which parts were your favorites? What other shows do you traditionally watch during the holidays?
How does TV influence our desires for certain products? Are there toys or games that you've seen in TV shows or movies that you want? How does this kind of advertising work?
For kids who love holiday fare
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