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Movie Review

Abby needs a break. As a struggling photographer who has worked the same boring job for far too long, her life isn’t exactly what she wants it to be. And when her best friend, Josh, comes into town after travelling the world, she’s reminded of just how far she is from her own dreams.

One snowy night, Abby’s grandfather gives her an antique Advent calendar, right before the Christmas season commences. It was her late grandmothers’ calendar, the very one that sparked the romance between her Gram and Gramps. And now, it’s Abby’s.

But it isn’t just any ol’ calendar. You see, every night at midnight, it opens its miniature doors to reveal a small object that seems, somehow, to have the power to predict the future. But can it fix all of Abby’s problems, bring her a dream job and find her very own Prince Charming?

Only time—25 days, to be exact—will tell.

Positive Elements

Although Abby is afraid to pursue her dreams, her friends and family are close by to help some of her biggest wishes come to life.

Abby’s parents love her and want what is best for their daughter, even if they disagree with her choices at times. Abby’s supportive and honest sister continually pushes her to remember her role as an aunt and role model for those around her. Abby’s grandfather is a gentle soul who is perpetually encouraging, consistent, fun and kind. Gramps is Abby’s number one fan, and he wants her to learn life’s important lessons on her own rather than meticulously guiding her through any potential mistakes.

Meanwhile, Abby’s best friend, Josh, constantly reminds her that her dreams are worth pursuing and that she is loved and talented. Josh often goes to great lengths to make sure that Abby is taken care of and supported. Their friendship (mostly) shows that it is possible to push through difficult times and remain close, despite disagreements.

Abby chooses a meaningful relationship in favor of one that is desirable on the outside, but hollow on the inside. A group of wise older men tell Abby that what matters is not the façade that people put on public display, but how they make you feel and how you make them feel about themselves. Although there are a few moments of bickering and frustration, people always apologize and forgive one another.

Spiritual Content

We hear some debate in the film about whether Abby’s Advent calendar is magical or not. We hear references to “tempting fate” and reading one’s “Christmas horoscope.”

Sexual Content

Josh has clearly dated many interesting women, while Abby’s love life has been virtually nonexistent. Eventually, Abby goes on a few dates with a desirable single father (one who catches the eye of various single moms’ trying to win him over in their “good yoga pants”), and they kiss. Abby and Josh fall asleep together on the couch, though nothing sexual happens and both are fully clothed. Abby’s family shows a lot of interest in her love life.

Other couples kiss, hold hands and flirt. Loved ones embrace and kiss one another on the cheek. One woman wears a slightly revealing top.

Violent Content

A woman gets knocked over by a giant candy cane and subsequently injures her wrist. A young boy kicks Santa’s leg. Someone cutting down a Christmas tree jokes about being an “ax murderer.”

Crude or Profane Language

People say “crappy,” “stupid” and “sucks.” A woman refers to the Christmas season as “holiday hell” and to herself as “jerky.” An older man calls his friend an “ugly mug.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

People drink beer, wine and mixed drinks (all sparingly), and a woman drinks spiked eggnog. Two people joke about being tipsy (they’re not), and one asks for “whatever you’ve been drinking.” A guy asks a girl on a date to get drinks (she thinks he’s referring to alcohol, but they get coffee instead).

Other Negative Elements

Abby feels (and often, rightfully so) that her parents expect her to be someone that she is not. They don’t always have encouraging words for her when it comes to her career choices. A woman is unjustly fired from her job, and her employer is rude to her.

Abby clearly dislikes the Christmas season and is often irritable during the holidays. Single moms dote over a man who, rumor has it, has just been through an “amicable divorce.” It’s suggested that a man brings his love interests to a homeless shelter to impress them.

Conclusion

In our modern culture, we’d like to think that we don’t need others to thrive. But we do. Abby certainly does. She needs the love and support of her family and friends. And she needs them to push her to believe in herself, even when she doesn’t realize it.

The Holiday Calendar is a sweet movie that highlights the value of meaningful relationships. As is often the case in movies like these, we see folks have a few drinks. And—of course!—there’s some kissing and a whole bunch of innocuous holiday magic.

But the main point here is to give audiences a feel-good experience with some lightly inspirational themes sprinkled in. The Holiday Calendar accomplishes that goal, reminding us that when we’re tempted to be discontent, the cure is to open our eyes wide and recognize the many good things that are all around us.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Kat Graham as Abby Sutton; Ethan Peck as Ty; Quincy Brown as Josh; Ron Cephas Jones as Gramps; Genelle Williams as Sarah Sutton; Laura de Carteret as Judy Sutton; Romaine Waite as Mitch; Ali Hassan as Singh; Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll as Fernando

Director

Bradley Walsh ( )

Distributor

Netflix

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

November 2, 2018

On Video

November 2, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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