Teddy’s Christmas is a wholesome Norwegian fantasy film perfect for the Christmas season. It has the charm of a Rankin/Bass special, like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the warm nostalgia of A Christmas Story. Andrea Eckerbom’s film effectively fuses fantasy with relatable issues for families during the holiday season.

The film follows two protagonists, Mariann (Marte Kleck-Nilssen) and an anthropomorphic teddy bear, Teddy (Zachary Levi). One day, at a Christmas market in her small town, Mariann plays a carnival game, where she encounters a talking teddy bear. Mariann nearly wins Teddy but hijacks the game due to his selfish needs. Teddy does not want to be owned by a child; he desires to travel the world and end up with a wealthy owner. Things go wrong for both of them. Mariann is unable to get him as a mysterious man later wins him, while Teddy is in a shed with a bubbly toy hedgehog, Bolla (Marianne Graffam).

“Teddy does not want to be owned by a child; he desires to travel the world…”

In the meantime, Mariann’s desire to get her toy leads to trouble. She makes mistakes, almost stealing a kindly candy shop owner’s gift for his daughter because she thought Teddy was inside the box. Mariann’s reckless actions lead to tension with her parents. Teddy learns what it means to be a toy through the help of Bolla, as she teaches him his purpose. Will Mariann find Teddy?

This is a solid Christmas film. Beyond its whimsical atmosphere, Eckerbom interjects important family themes. There is a subplot involving Mariann’s brother, Niels (Vegard Stand Eid), where he wants to know who is really bringing presents: Santa Claus or his parents. Incorporating these thematic elements is what makes the film feel relatable and adds sophistication. Zachary Levi gives a sincere vocal performance as Teddy. His character is given a flaw and is not your stereotypical cheerful Christmas hero. It flips the audience’s expectations, yet Teddy is still lovable. Hopefully, audiences will get to see Levi in more Christmas films.

For American audiences, this film introduces bits of Norwegian tradition through Mariann’s family, such as Risalamande, where whoever finds the almond in the pudding wins a marzipan pig. Eckerbom’s film also has all the right elements for a Christmas film: a whimsical score and aesthetic reminiscent of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Children will be captivated by Teddy, and parents will appreciate the life lessons of Mariann’s storyline. This Norwegian hit needs to get a wide release here in the States. A heartwarming Christmas film is just what audiences need right now.

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