Family for Christmas

What About the Children?

This is a 2015 movie that I have seen a couple of times. It was on again last night and it got my attention again. This review is more of a rant. And not about the sexist patriarchal message it sends. No, this is one of those time travel movies with children in it and as usual, that makes it very problematic. A career-oriented Lacey Chabert meets a magical Santa who whisks her into another version of her life. One in which, if, 10 years earlier, she had stayed with her college boyfriend and not gone to San Francisco for an internship. In the version of her life she is thrust into, she is a suburban mom happily married to said boyfriend. She has two children she doesn’t know, and we are shown photos of them as babies and growing up with the alternate version of Lacey. Jumping to the end, when she wakes up again back to her “real life” as a career-oriented journalist, she wants to go back to her husband and children she has come to love. She finds that same Santa, and he tells her that she can’t go back, she can only make other choices going forward. The husband is alive and well with another life. But what about the children? They have been wiped off the face of the earth. They had personalities, thoughts, fears, love, friends, and even souls if you will, and they are just gone. They never even existed. That is horrific and tragic. Never have even existed is even worse than dying too young. At one point, if I interpreted it correctly, she goes to their school and they never come out after dismissal. In a Richard Curtis time travel movie, About Time, the hero could go back in time and make other decisions to get it right, only as long as he had no children. Then there were rules and restrictions. The only other way this trope can work is if it is crispy clear that the whole other life experience is only a dream. That is not the case in this one. At the end, she meets up with her old boyfriend who is still available 10 years later, to live her life going forward but this time including love and family with this guy. She still remembers her alternate life and her kids. I don’t even want to think of the effect these memories will have on her life and decisions going forward. Mind. Boggled.

Lacey Chabert is funny and touching in this, and the movie, if you just ignore all of the metaphysical and existential dilemmas is a good fish out of water story. I like time travel tropes. This one is often compared with Tea Leonie and Nick Cage’s Family Man. I need to watch that movie again to see how the children thing is handled. I can ignore all of the other paradoxes the time travel tropes present and just enjoy the movies for the interesting situations they present, both funny, dramatic, touching, and uplifting., But not if they involve children being erased. That is a bridge too far. I don’t know how to rate this. I’ll just give it a 5.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

5 thoughts on “Family for Christmas

  1. This is worth a look. I love this stuff but it’s way over my head. I’m glad it’s there to think about and I’m so glad people like this exist! 🙂 (Also let me slip in kudos for using the word “fustercluck” in one of your previous reviews.) Well played. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my gosh, About Time is one of the all time greats!! I had to watch it 3 or 4 times to get it straight. What a decision he had to make about having the third child and when he and his Dad went back one last time I wept. Incidentally, the woman who the former Mr. Collins(2005) 😉 said reminded him of Andy Warhol plays a powerful part in “Gifted” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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