21 March 2013

Movie Review: "Good Luck, Charlie: It's Christmas!"

Rated: TV-G
Starring: Bridgit Mendler, Leigh-Allyn Baker, Mia Talerico
Released: December 2, 2011 (Disney Channel premiere) / December 6, 2011 (iTunes) / October 23, 2012 (Wal-Mart Exclusive DVD)
Synopsis: The Duncan family is planning on spending their holiday season away from home for the first time ever; they're heading to sunny Palm Springs, California, to meet mom Amy's parents.  Unfortunately, things end up going quite awry.  It all starts when oldest daughter Teddy volunteers to take another flight in hopes of getting a free plane ticket, which she plans to use for Spring Break.  Amy decides to go with her...only to find that all the flights are booked! Their journey takes them to small towns and even Las Vegas...but Amy isn't acting quite normal. Is she hiding something? Meanwhile, Amy's mom locks Mr. Duncan in a room for time-out, middle son P. J. is getting entirely too much sun, and Amy's dad is addicted to younger son Gabe's video game.  Can the Duncans have a Merry Christmas despite the craziness? Hang in there, baby!

Story: 4/5
You'd probably expect this to be an extended sitcom episode...and, for the most part, it is.  Though there is no laugh track, the set for the Duncan household is the same, and there are plenty of the usual hijinks.  However, it isn't all laughs and chuckles; a few poignant moments can be found.  The one problem I have with the story is the "big secret" that's revealed mid-movie.  Though I won't say what it is, I will say that most people over the age of 13 who watch this will see it coming a mile away.  Then again, maybe that's just because I'm late to the party, and was just introduced to Good Luck, Charlie in December of 2012, a full year after this movie premiered, with episodes that took place after this telefilm.

Production Values: 5/5
Disney Channel usually knows how to make a quality telefilm, and this is no exception.  Everything in this department--the acting, the sets, the filming, the English SDHs, etc.--is great.  Not much to say other than that.

Special Features: 0/5
Anyone who has been a student in a traditional school will tell you that, if you don't do an assignment, you get a zero.  Well, Good Luck, Charlie: It's Christmas! gets a zero in the special features department because it is completely devoid of them.  Other than the aforementioned English SDHs--which no one considers "special" anymore--there is nothing on the disc but the movie.  No foreign subtitles or dubbing; no deleted scenes; no music video for Bridgit Mendler's song that is featured during the opening credits; not even a menu screen or scene selection options.  When you put the disc in, the movie starts, and, as soon as the closing credits finish rolling, the movie starts all over again.  Apparently, Disney Channel really rushed the production of this one.

Moral Content: 4.5/5
Good Luck, Charlie: It's Christmas! was made for the Disney Channel, so you'd expect clean content, and that's what you'll get...for the most part.  Here are the slight complaints I have: Amy spends much of the first part of the movie being ill, which may gross out some viewers.  P. J. spends some time shirtless, and two nameless young women are seen in one-piece swimsuits that show quite a bit of legs and shoulders.  Gabe plays a video game that involves the usage of a gun, which could unsettle some people in light of recent violence.  A scene that involved a car literally breaking down might freak out those who have had traumatic experiences with automobile accidents.  You may say, "That's small potatoes!" I know; that's why I gave it a 4.5.

Conclusion: Disney Channel sitcoms are easy for me to like; they're funny, clean, current, and almost always have an attractive female lead.  Though Good Luck, Charlie is a great show--I've watched countless episodes on TV and via my Watch Disney Channel app on my iPad over the past three months or so--this movie still feels slightly lackluster.  Seriously, though every fan of the show should see Good Luck, Charlie: It's Christmas!, I can't imagine purchasing the DVD, even at a cheap price.  If you've seen it on TV, you've seen all you probably would want to see.  Unfortunately, it seems that this Yuletide movie is all the Good Luck, Charlie we'll get on DVD; still, your money would be better spent buying your favorite episodes from iTunes.

Score: 2.5/5

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