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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Mistle-Tones is a sweet holiday story with themes like coping with disappointment, being comfortable with yourself, and seeing past appearances. Tia Mowry is great as a talented but overlooked singer hoping to follow in her mother's footsteps, and viewers of all ages will relate to her struggles with a "mean girl" bully who gets her kicks from controlling others. Expect a couple of bursts of salty language ("ass," "hell," "damn," and "be-yatch") and some suggestive dance moves from an all-male singing group, but these brief moments are all but forgotten in light of the movie's festive music and sweet story that celebrates relationships of all shapes and sizes.
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What's the story?
In THE MISTLE-TONES, Holly (Tia Mowry) has long dreamed of landing a spot in her town's premiere vocal group, The Snow Belles, which her mother created years ago. But when she's passed over by the group's snooty leader, Marcy (Tori Spelling), for a lesser talent, Holly takes the fight to the Belles, challenging them to a sing-off for a coveted performance at a well-known Christmas Eve event. She gathers some unlikely talent and races the clock to get them ready in time for the audition, but when the fateful day arrives, Holly finds that the lessons it holds about the spirit of the holiday are more fulfilling than any singing gig could ever be.
Is it any good?
This is a festive holiday story that makes great use of Mowry's considerable vocal talents without allowing the plot to be driven by the music alone. Even though The Mistle-Tones centers on vying singing groups, and much of the story is either set to background music or centers on the cast's multiple performances, these moments complement what's already a well-rounded story about ambition, adaptability, friendship, and forgiveness. Mix in a fairly sappy romance, some poignant tears shared over memories of Christmases past, and some great new renditions of classic Christmas tunes, and this movie should jump a few spaces up your holiday watch list.
If any performance could vie with Mowry's, it's got to be Spelling's take on the self-absorbed, elitist captain of The Snow Belles. She's uncannily believable in the role, taking pleasure in taunting friends and foes alike and resting on her vanity and her status within the town to coerce conformity among her clique. It's not easy to miss the messages the movie's sending by way of Marcy's actions -- especially when they stand in such sharp contrast to Holly's kinder nature -- so this makes for a great conversation starter with kids about popularity and peer pressure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about popularity. How is popularity determined among your peers? Are there obvious leaders? How do they respond to their social standing? How much of a concern is popularity to you? To your friends?
How do the characters' actions in The Mistle-Tones reflect their values? What role do a person's family relationships play in their behavior toward others? How do you see that illustrated by the characters?
Holly finds that sharing a love of music opens her up to some surprising friendships. What shared interests have led you to relationships you otherwise might not have found? Which of your friends is most different from you? How does this diversity benefit your relationship?
- In theaters: December 9, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: December 29, 2016
- Cast: Tia Mowry, Tori Spelling, Jonathan Patrick Moore
- Director: Paul Hoen
- Studio: ABC Family
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Holidays, Misfits and Underdogs, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: October 31, 2019
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