A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Christmas with Tucker is a feel-good holiday movie based on a popular book by Greg Kincaid. It explores a teen's feelings about a parent's recent death (not shown in the movie) and uses the topic to explore themes of grief and recovery rather than wallowing in sadness, so most kids should fare well. A brief plot diversion raises the issue of alcoholism in a thoughtful manner and with a positive and uplifting turnaround toward the story's end. Relationships with family members and friends and the enduring bonds between animals and people round out this heartwarming tale.
What's the story?
CHRISTMAS WITH TUCKER is the story of a 13-year-old boy named George (Gage Munroe), who's helping his grandparents, Bo (James Brolin) and Cora (Barbara Gordon), on their dairy farm while he deals with the emotions of his father's recent death. During a particularly bitter winter in their Kansas town, George develops a special relationship with a neighbor's dog, whom he names Tucker. Tucker's presence helps George through the ups and downs of dealing with grief and learning tough lessons in responsibility, which threatens the bond between these best friends. As Christmas approaches, George wrestles with choices about his future, relying on the strength of his family to see him through his first holiday season without his dad.
Is it any good?
There are few surprises in this fairly sappy coming-of-age story, but that doesn't dampen the pleasant messages it offers to families, which tie in nicely with the holidays. Viewers see family members and neighbors lean on each other through difficult times, lend helping hands when they can, and talk openly about their feelings. George's journey from grief to hope is applicable to plenty more scenarios than his, and the recurring themes of generosity, forgiveness, and hope are easy to pick out of the plot.
Young kids might have questions about references to George's dad's death or a minor character's struggles with alcohol, but these will be short-lived. More likely they'll revel in the sweet affection between George and Tucker, which, depending on your situation, should either reinforce their feelings for your family pets or possibly start a conversation about the need for a little Tucker of their own.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dealing with difficult situations. Where do you turn for emotional support when you need it? Why are relationships with family members and friends so important, especially in tough times?
What does George learn about growing up and being responsible? What hard choices have you had to make at important points in your life? Are you proud of how you handled those situations? What, if anything, would you change now?
Kids: What are some of your family's holiday traditions? How do they reflect your values? How does it feel when something comes up that disrupts them for you?
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