Making the Grades
"The best part of Christmas is getting presents," explains Eloise (Sofia Vassilieva) directly to the camera. Basking in the ribbons, holly, and jingle bell cheer of the festive season, the precocious six-year-old introduces the viewer to her "tr0xE8s elegant" world - The Plaza Hotel in New York City.
Describing herself as a "city child," the blonde bundle of bounce is the offspring of a globetrotting and obviously very wealthy woman. Parented by long-distance phone calls, Eloise resides permanently at the posh landmark under the not-always-so-watchful care of Nanny (played by Julie Andrews, looking more frumpy than you've ever seen her before).
It is hard to tell if the aging English caregiver is just too worn out by her energetic charge to keep up with her frantic pace, or if Nanny swaggers because she "likes her eggnog strong." Although she often lets Eloise run unaccompanied throughout the hotel, she is always there when the little girl needs some comfort or a bedtime story.
For family, Eloise has adopted the Plaza's staff and puts them all on her Christmas shopping list. (Seen almost as a mascot, their feelings for the little hellion who haunts the halls range from polite tolerance to true affection.) Yet as she meddles in their daily affairs, she begins to realize that the gifts some of them desire cannot be wrapped and placed under the tree.
Capturing the spirit and charm of Kay Thompson's classic children stories, the creators' of this made-for-TV adaptation have also used the beloved illustrations of Hilary Knight for inspiration. The story line has been expanded however, and now includes a love triangle, a sneaky villain, and a crusty old woman who is about to lose her home. Of course, the irrepressible Eloise has a plan for every plight.
With the exception of a few terms of deity being used as expletives, some social drinking, and an instance of mild peril, Eloise at Christmastime is a nice, light, little movie that is sure to appeal to the younger crowd. As she noses about in the business of others, she shares lessons on learning to love your neighbor and not judge others by their social standing. Parents may still have some concerns about the unrealistic portrayal of her life, which has no structure, accountability or financial constrains, but they will appreciate the overall message: The best part of Christmas is the things we do for others - not the things we get.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Eloise At Christmastime.
Although Eloise’s constant meddling in the lives of others turns out to be a good thing in this movie, is that always true in real life? How do you know when to become involved in other people’s problems, and when not to?
What’s with the wreath? In the closing scene of the movie, a stray Christmas wreath is being blown about by the wind. Those familiar with the original story may remember Hilary Knight drew one into the concluding picture of the book. The movie creators included it too, trying to stay faithful to the artist’s vision. (You can learn more about this in the Making of documentary included on the DVD of Eloise at Christmastime.)