Desperately Seeking Santa

(i)

 

Average romcom has likable messages of personal empowerment.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The story celebrates themes of being true to yourself, standing up for what's right, being open to change, respecting others, and seeing past a person's appearance. Jennifer learns to take other people's feelings into account, even when doing so costs her a personal goal. The story comes down solidly on the side of small-town America in face-offs with big business and casts corporate execs as greedy and self-serving at the cost of average citizens. A contest to cast a new mall Santa focuses on men's sex appeal as a main criteria.

Positive role models

Jennifer evolves from a self-centered corporate climber to a person who values people's feelings and respects that the jobs they do have merit. David risks everything to stand up for what he believes in and to save his father's lifelong business. The corporate "villains" don't budge in their goals, but that just serves to accentuate the emotional divide between them and the heartier characters.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

Contestants in a "Sexy Santa" competition flaunt their bare chests, gyrate their hips, and shake their booties to the delight of female onlookers, who refer to them as "hot" and "man candy" while they rate their sex appeal. One man drops his pants to show off his boxers. There's a lot of flirting among adults. A sweet romance culminates in some kissing, but that's as far as it goes.

Language

A couple uses of "ass."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A few scenes show adults drinking beer or wine with meals, but it's not central to the plot.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this romantic holiday movie -- which features an appealing, small-town guy-next-door hero and juxtaposes him against a corrupt corporate mogul who threatens his family's livelihood -- has relevance to modern times and good things to say about personal empowerment. Men flaunt their physiques -- flexing bare chests and sporting boxers in some cases -- in a contest of sex appeal, and there's some kissing and flirting among couples, including (in the case of flirting) a pair of gay men. The story has holiday spirit to spare and inspires hope that character and perseverance will continue to be hallmarks of success.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Marketing executive Jennifer Walker (Laura Vandervoort) has her eyes on a promotion to her company's corporate headquarters; with the coveted job on the line, she creates a "Sexy Santa" competition at the fledgling South Boston Mall to increase sales and propel her to the lead in the company's profit margins. Though she initially butts heads with the contest's winner, David Moretti (Nick Zano), over time, she comes to appreciate how his down-home charm contrasts with the calculated coldness of the higher-ups she used to admire. But just as she finds her steely resolve warming around David, Jennifer discovers the upsetting truth behind his family's impending loss of their restaurant, and she must choose between following the career path she's set for herself and following her heart.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

It doesn't break any new ground in the romcom genre, but DESPERATELY SEEKING SANTA has a certain appeal, thanks to the empowering David-and-Goliath story surrounding David's mission to save his restaurant, which parallels the blossoming relationship between him and Jennifer. It's rewarding to root for a kind underdog who singlehandedly takes on corporate greed and vies for the hand of a girl whose true beauty he helped reveal. And in the process, it's impossible not to reexamine your own definition of success and happiness. This story's commentary on the tug-of-war between small-town life and big business probably isn't its main intended message, but in light of modern economic times, the movie's timeliness pulls it to the forefront nonetheless.
 

Of course, none of this outshines the holiday spirit that takes root in the story. It's always uplifting to see someone (fictional or not) rediscover the meaning of Christmas, and Jennifer's journey from the ranks of Scrooge to a full-fledged Christmas believer is heartening. As for the content, with the exception of some references to sex appeal and a few kisses, this sweet story is suitable for older tweens and up.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the nature of business. Does success always have to come at someone else's expense? Which careers focus less on competition and more on collaboration?

  • Teens: How do you know when you've met someone you truly love? How does being in love change your perspective on life and a career? What are the media's messages about love and sex? How do they compare to your own family's values on those topics?

  • What dangers exist in judging a book by its cover? Have you ever found that your first impressions of someone were wrong? What did the experience teach you? Did it change how you relate to people when you meet them?

TV details

Cast:Laura Vandervoort, Nick Zano
Network:Freeform
Genre:Comedy
TV rating:TV-14

This review of Desperately Seeking Santa was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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