Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square parents guide

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square Parent Guide

Yup, the movie's formulaic and clunky....but, hey, Dolly Parton will probably use the profits for a good cause.

Overall B+

Netflix: When a bitter and resentful woman plans to sell the town and evict everyone on Christmas Eve, it's down to the residents to change her mind and save their community - all with the Christmas music stylings of Dolly Parton.

Release date November 22, 2020

Violence A
Sexual Content A-
Profanity A-
Substance Use B

Why is Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square rated TV-PG? The MPAA rated Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square TV-PG

Run Time: 98 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Upon her father’s death six months previously, Regina (Christine Baranski) inherited a small town in the middle of middle America. But Regina has some unhappy memories of the place and decides to sell the land off to a mall developer – which means sending out eviction notices that take effect on Christmas Eve. Thankfully, Angel (Dolly Parton), a real honest-to-goodness angel is on hand to try to get Regina back on track and save both Christmas and the town. Getting Regina to learn from her past is going to take some doing and even a heavenly messenger might need some reinforcements to make this Christmas merry.

This is a film so absurdly clichéd that even Netflix tags it as “campy”, which is undoubtedly the point. Christmas on the Square is quintessentially a Hallmark-style made-for-TV Christmas movie. Bad expository dialogue, absurd melodrama, limited sets, and unconvincing acting are all present in full force. I think that it’s Christmas on the Square because that’s the largest chunk of town they could pack into the obvious sound stage.

Ordinarily, I’d perform major surgery on myself rather than sit through this kind of saccharine holiday drivel, but Dolly Parton gives this movie at least some watchability. Sure, she’s responsible for the irritating musical numbers, but I can forgive her for it because she’s also a genuinely amazing person. She has done some incredible charitable work and donates huge amounts of her wealth to causes she feels passionately about. I’m not a fan of her music (although even I will admit that 9 to 5 is a bop), but I am a fan of Dolly Parton as a person.

There’s almost nothing for parents to be concerned about here – this is basically a Yuletide after-school-special. Regina is briefly shown drinking at a bar, although she only has one drink. There are references to teen pregnancy, but this is described as a terrible mistake and there is no on-screen activity. Profanity is limited to a handful of mild curses and nothing more.

If you’re looking for a melodramatic musical version of A Christmas Carol, this is exactly the movie for you. For everyone else, the clunky and expository dialogue is probably going to make you want to eat a Tide pod. If you think you can stick it out and you appreciate the film’s earnest sincerity, you’ll find some comfort in the thought that the profits which accrue to Dolly Parton will likely end up doing something worthwhile. However, if you aren’t up for sitting through this Christmas-with-a-country-twang movie but still want to pump up its viewer numbers, you can try playing it in the background with the sound off while you do something else. I think the Spirit of Christmas Present would approve…

Directed by Debbie Allen. Starring Dolly Parton, Christine Baranski, and Treat Williams. Running time: 98 minutes. Theatrical release November 22, 2020. Updated

Watch the trailer for Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square
Rating & Content Info

Why is Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square rated TV-PG? Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square is rated TV-PG by the MPAA

Violence: An individual is hurt in a car accident off-screen and is shown being carried into a hospital.
Sexual Content: There is a reference to teen pregnancy with no on-screen sexual behavior.
Profanity: There are several mild profanities. 
Alcohol / Drug Use: An adult character is shown drinking whiskey in a bar.

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Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square Parents' Guide

Why does Regina want to sell off the town? What parts of her past are the hardest for her to let go of? What lessons does she learn?

How does the resistance to Regina’s plan go in the town? What do you think they could have done differently to be more effective? Do you think they did things right?

For information about Dolly Parton’s charitable activities you can go to The Dollywood Foundation. Dolly Parton also helped fund the Moderna vaccine for Covid-19 through a multipurpose donation. For more information, click here.

 

Loved this movie? Try these books…

The original novella, A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens. It has been frequently adapted by other authors. A modern day retake on the traditional tale is told by Cynthia Hand in The Afterlife of Holly Chase. This is a clever version of the story that will appeal to teens and adults. A visual feast, Sarah Powell’s A Christmas Carol lets readers scan the illustrations to find characters as they wend their way through the events of that momentous night.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

The “grouchy rich person Christmas epiphany” plot is perhaps best exemplified by adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which include another campy musical - The Muppets Christmas Carol. Also available are the 1951 A Christmas Carol, and Disney’s A Christmas Carol.