A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The setting for much of this movie takes place in a school, though not much educating goes on. The main character struggles with dyslexia, which is addressed in the show briefly. The main character's self esteem plummets as he's told by his schoolmates and teachers that he's a "loser," that he doesn't do anything right, and that he's a disaster. He does prove his worth to himself (and others) by the end of the show.
Be true to yourself. You are unique. Be a good friend. Being different doesn't mean you're a loser. You don't have to fit in to be accepted. Do the right thing. Be loyal to the right people.
Positive Role Models
Teachers and adults in authority can be verbally abusive and extremely critical. Mr. Rock, the music teacher, is supportive of kids with learning disabilities, alluding to his own struggles; he can be a chaotic figure when he bucks the school system. Hank's mother stands up for him against bullies and gives Hank the support he needs when he's beating himself up.
The main character is White; his best friends are from diverse backgrounds. Kids with disabilities are represented, but they struggle with bullying and can be very down on themselves.
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Violence & Scariness
Lots of perilous situations including falls, electrocution, and car accidents. An adult entertainment manager keeps a kid essentially in captivity, not allowing her to contact her parents or see her friends. Adults verbally abuse kids.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens hold hands and exchange chaste kisses. Pregnancy is a theme.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hank Zipzer's Christmas Catastrophe is a music-filled spin-off of the Emmy Award-winning Hank Zipzer show, which is based on books written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. The main character, Hank, is a kid who's constantly struggling to untangle himself from self-imposed disasters. He does things his way, while losing track of time, being unusually clumsy, and getting crazily distracted. He's a kid who has dyslexia, a learning disability that can affect the ability for a person to read, keep track of time, and do things in an orderly fashion. Hank struggles with all of these things and causes perilous situations without meaning to. Adults in authority positions can be verbally abusive to kids, saying they are losers, that they do stupid things, that they let everyone down. A music manager forbids a kid from contacting her parents when she's far away from home. There's hand holding and chaste kissing among teens. Pregnancy and medical peril are themes.
Is It Any Good?
Zany and raucous, this addition to the Hank Zipzer franchise illustrates how adults' negative attitudes can be internalized by kids with learning disabilities. In Hank Zipzer's Christmas Catastrophe, there's lots of silliness that surrounds a kid who suffers from a disability -- but who might not be getting the support that he needs. In fact, when Hank "ruins" everything, his self-talk gets very dark, turning the comedy into something sadder.
Parents might sit down to watch in anticipation of a good turn-out by the funny Henry Winkler, whose life the Zipzer franchise has been based on. But the script fails him, and there aren't a lot of consequent opportunities for cast members to shine. Tweens will want to see what happens with Hank and his friend the pop star, but this show can't escape of the chaos it has created.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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