The Keys of Christmas

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Keys of Christmas Movie Poster Image
Bah, humbug. An extended holiday music video with cursing.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 47 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Any potentially positive Christmas messages are outweighed by songs like "Christmas is a Bitch" and gratuitous performances by pop vocalists. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 


A Christmas elf repeatedly slaps the lead character hard in the face. 


Pop singers in sexy outfits perform their songs. 


"F--k" is dinged out through sound effects from objects in the scene. Lead character sums up his initial feelings about the holidays with the number "Christmas is a Bitch." A joke is made that references bestiality. Variations on "s--t." "Freaky ass s--t." "Damn." "Balls." 


Basically, this is one long holiday-themed marketing tool in which contemporary pop singers perform holiday material. References made to Uber. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking in a bar. When someone says, "He must be smokin' somethin'," the lead character answers, "I don't smoke...usually." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Keys of Christmas is a 2016 YouTube Red short feature in which internet personality Rudy Mancuso plays a Scrooge-type who gets lessons on the Christmas spirit from various pop singers. Families expecting more wholesome fare will be put off by, among other things, one of the opening songs, in which Mancuso sings of how "Christmas is a Bitch." There is occasional profanity, including a couple uses of "f--k" in which the word is drowned out by the well-timed sound of an object in the scene, variations on "s--t," as well as a joke involving bestiality. Mancuso says, "I don't smoke...usually." Essentially, this is little more than an extended holiday-themed promotional video in which contemporary pop singers such as Fifth Harmony and Mariah Carey dress in sexy Santa outfits and lipsync while dancing. 

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What's the story?

Rudy Mancuso is not feeling the Christmas spirit in THE KEYS OF CHRISTMAS. This Christmas hate is only increased after his girlfriend breaks up with him when he refuses to attend her family's Christmas sweater party. He walks down a Manhattan thoroughfare, where he happens to come across a piano on the street corner, and plays a song with the title "Christmas is a Bitch." When this is finished, Mancuso breaks his phone and needs to get it fixed. He takes an Uber driven by DJ Khaled, who takes him not to the Apple Store, but instead to an alternate reality winter wonderland filled with the likes of Mariah Carey, Mike Tyson, Bebe Rexha, and other pop performers, all of whom seek to show Mancuso the true meaning of Christmas. 

Is it any good?

Don't waste your time on this dreadful excuse for a holiday special. The Keys of Christmas is an extended music video that's low on plot, fails at comedy, and leaves the viewer wondering if internet celebrity Rudy Mancuso cares more about the meaning of Christmas or more about the tragedy of his smartphone breaking. DJ Khaled isn't completely awful as the Clarence to Mancuso's George Bailey, and Mariah Carey and her Christmas hit "All I Want for Christmas is You" surely adds a smidge of venerable respectability amongst all the standard pop fare.

Nonetheless, this appears to be a part of YouTube Red's ongoing project to prove inconclusively that many of the "internet famous" lack the talent and creativity to do anything remotely entertaining that's longer than the time it takes for a Snapchat picture to disappear. And if Mancuso and company are going to venture into storytelling, perhaps they should learn such tried-and-true concepts as "three acts" and "story arcs." Mastery of these would go far in avoiding slap-dash endings and even turning a very loose parody of It's a Wonderful Life into an incoherent, if AutoTuneful, mess. 


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Christmas specials like The Keys of Christmas . How have they changed over the years? How have they remained the same? 

  • Why do you think YouTube and its channel YouTube Red are actively putting out entertainment product starring performers who are "internet famous?"

  • How does the story manage to work in performances by so many pop singers? Does it feel relevant to the story, or forced in for the sake of promoting holiday songs sung by these pop singers?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

Themes & Topics

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