Parents' Guide to

The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story

By Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Popular book inspires delightful holiday movie for families.

Movie NR 2011 24 minutes
The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 6+

Based on 10 parent reviews

age 3+

True Christmas Classic for Kids!

What's not to like? As a parent I really appreciate this for what it is--a sweet Christmas special with timeless messages like Christmas being a time for forgiveness and celebrating the season with love, joy and peace. This is cute and entertaining for adults who watch this with their children in mind and don't expect complicated plot lines. The songs are fun. There are no scary, bad guys. The themes are sweet. I do agree with the main reviewer that if your kids don't already have The Elf on the Shelf they will be clamoring for it... but after watching this, I'm not so sure that is a bad thing. I can't help but chuckle at everyone who made remarks that this is too commercial. I mean, really... do you think Rudolph, Frosty and Charlie Brown haven't made a fortune on merchandise? I don't think this is any different and I don't think the movie dwells on the "product" at all--other than helping to explain that the packaging is how an elf comes to your home. It's simple and sweet and stays true to the spirit of Christmas I want my children to celebrate.

This title has:

Great messages
1 person found this helpful.
age 7+

elf in show says there is no santa

this is a good show but beware the first part of the movie. Santa says to the elf wow you have a big job to do this person does not believe in santa anymore. I realize there are a lot of shows that say it but why put the question in their mind. Just say he lost the spirit or magic. We all know what that means. later in the show the elf comes back saying he's sad he still has a lot of work to do and feels he's disappointing santa because the child still doesnt believe. in the end the child ends up believing. But like i said saying the words is very direct.
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (10):
Kids say (2):

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.

Movie Details

  • On DVD or streaming: November 26, 2011
  • Studio: CBS Films
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Run time: 24 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • Last updated: November 3, 2020

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.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate