The Ultimate Christmas Present

Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
The Ultimate Christmas Present Movie Poster Image
Unassuming Christmas comedy is fun for all the family.
  • NR
  • 2000
  • 80 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Stands out for positive messages.

Educational Value

The movie is intended to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

The movie teaches the importance of family and spending time together. Responsibility and selflessness are strong themes. There is also a message about everyone having the potential to change.

Positive Role Models

Allie is smart but can also be irresponsible. Her sense for adventure can lead her and best friend Sam into mischief. Allie's parents are loving but busy and there is mention of the family not spending enough time together. Edwin, the weatherman, initially behaves obsessively and wild, but talks his problems through with Santa and ultimately changes his ways.

Violence & Scariness

Snowball fight. Character pushed from a snowmobile. Vehicle crashes through a storefront. Brief reference to a dead parent.

Sexy Stuff

Adult characters kiss on the cheek and reference is made to a classroom crush.

Language

No strong language, but infrequent mild insults include "dull," "tiresome," "chicken," and "lame-o."

Consumerism

There is mention of what the children want for Christmas, including roller blades and a video game.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A cigar is referenced in passing, but not shown on screen.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Ultimate Christmas Present is a light family Christmas TV movie with some fun scenes and very little in terms of darker material. It teaches the importance of family, friendship, and taking responsibility, as well as the potential for people to change. Teens Allie (Hallee Hirsh) and Sam (Brenda Song) do sneak around and get into mild mischief, but are never endangered. Likewise, the movie's "bad guy," Edwin (Peter Scolari) poses no real threat, with his behavior largely down to his obsession with becoming the world's best weather man. Mention is made of a dead father, but the scene is fleeting and serves to enforce the message of making the most of family time. Overall, it is breezy, fun, and full of festive spirit and should appeal to younger viewers or whole families watching together.

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What's the story?

In THE ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS PRESENT, 13-year-old Allie Thompson (Hallee Hirsh) is desperate to find a way to avoid writing a school paper due in before the Christmas break. When she and her best friend Sam (Brenda Song) find a strange contraption in the trash outside a cabin in the woods, they discover that it is a weather machine and plot to give Los Angeles its first snowy Christmas. Initially a school snow day sounds perfect, but as the blizzard gets out of control it threatens her father's travel plans, her mother's work bookings, and Santa's ability to deliver toys -- especially when the machine falls into the hands of a maniacal weatherman. Can the girls team up with Santa and his elves to save Christmas?

Is it any good?

Amid a flurry of straight-to-TV Christmas films, this is a light-hearted and fun family adventure that doesn't think far outside the box, but wraps the package up well. The young leads, Hirsh and Song, give great performances with plenty of energy, while Spencer Breslin has the annoying younger brother trope down to perfection and John B. Lowe makes for a warm and knowing Santa.

Snow in L.A. adds a magical flourish, and there are some fun touches, such as children sliding down hills on inflatable floats and surfboards, as well as mischievous antics from Santa's unexpectedly tall elves, Sparky (Bill Fagerbakke) and Crumpet (John Salley). Sweet and funny, if somewhat slight, The Ultimate Christmas Present is a vibrant and uplifting movie full of festive spirit.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what The Ultimate Christmas Present teaches us about the true meaning of Christmas. What do you like best about the holidays? What could you do this Christmas that might make someone's even better?

  • How does the film represent family? What are the good and bad things about Allie's family life? How does Allie's family compare to your own?

  • What does the movie teach us about friendship? Talk about your own friendships. What makes a good friendship?

  • How does this movie compare to other Christmas movies? What are your favorite Christmas movies and why?

Movie details

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