JOSH AT THE MOVIES: Film Review: Teddy’s Christmas
November 28, 2023
As the years go by, recapturing that same sense of whimsical delight once felt as a child for the Christmas holiday cinematically seems increasingly out of reach. Norwegian import Teddy’s Christmas, now dubbed to reach a wider audience, definitely encapsulates the spirit of the holiday for younger viewers to enjoy. The movie itself is often clumsy and silly, but its nostalgic Christmas atmosphere remains enough of a present to mildly recommend. At the very least, the lovable teddy bear aptly named Teddy at its core will delight lovers of all things fluffy.
On Christmas Eve eve, little Mariann (Marta Klerck-Nilssen) finds a most unexpected, magical item at the local Christmas market. Attempting to win it all at the Wheel of Fortune booth, Mariann wins first-prize Teddy fair and square; if Teddy himself (Zachary Levi) was not sentient, she would have bagged him right there and then. Instead, Teddy manipulates the wheel so it lands elsewhere and Mariann cannot claim him as her own. Some wealthy man wins Teddy instead, for the bear believes he is made for better things. He wants to see the world, so whoever takes him home must be loaded with money. “Rich teddy bears are happy bears,” he insists.
As they say, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Teddy wins up in a dingy woodshed, afraid he has made the wrong decision entirely. An adorably eccentric plush hedgehog named Bolla (Lene Kongsvik Johansen) befriends Teddy, and the two vow to discover a way to escape. Mariann desperately tries to track down Teddy, but her family barely seems to understand why she cares so much about him. Mariann and Teddy practically imprinted on one another. As Teddy, Levi does an exceptional job in humanizing him through flaws. From Tangled to Robot Chicken and soon Chicken Run: Dawn of the Chicken Nugget, Levi leans into his obvious vocal charisma effortlessly.
At roughly an hour and ten minutes, Teddy’s Christmas tries hard to lean into the quirks, remaining slight and simple. This facet is perhaps the biggest strength. The narrative does not widen its scope beyond Teddy and Mariann and their plight, allowing the full feature to focus solely on their bond. Teddy’s Christmas has more than a few laugh-out-loud moments, including a spastic father who knocks over a tree and random interactions between CGI-animated stuffed sentient beings. The biggest strength is nearly identical to Toy Story, in that the magic between child and toy brings them together. The film does not contain even a minute amount of Toy Story’s charms or subtleties, yet Teddy’s Christmas keeps things adorable. Come for the teddy, stay for the whimsy.
Unwrap the gift of Teddy’s Christmas, Friday, December 1st in theaters.