Today’s Prayer Focus

The Flight Before Christmas

Reviewed by: Dymphna Meeds

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Kids Family
Genre: Animation Christmas Comedy Kids Family
Length: 1 hr. 21 min.
Year of Release: 2008
USA Release: DVD release: October 28, 2008
Copyright, Genius Products, The Weinstein Company
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Genius Products, The Weinstein Company
Christmas movies
REVIEWS of other “Christmas” movies
What is the true meaning of CHRISTMAS?
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Featuring Norm MacDonald (voice)
Emma Roberts (voice)
Distributor Genius Products

“Just believe in yourself and you can fly!” How often have we heard that message in a movie? And, obviously, this is the message behind this movie as well. However, the question is if “The Flight Before Christmas” glorifies rebelling against those in charge and being disobedient or standing up for yourself in a good way.

Nicko is a young reindeer who longs to fly just like his dad who is in The Flying Forces for Santa. However, his dreams continue to lead him into problem after problem. After he brings danger upon his whole herd, Nicko sneaks away to find out the unanswered questions about his father and to pursue his dream. Accompanied by a tough, flying squirrel named Julius and musical weasel named Wilma, Nicko embarks on the journey of a lifetime.

From an enjoyment point of view, I found this movie very long and tiresome. Although some moments made me smile, I thought it was much toO boring to watch with the whole family. However, younger children might love the animals, if they aren't scared of the wolves. But, overall, this movie wasn't worth it.


As mentioned before, the main theme of this movie is believing in yourself. And there is something to be said for that. Nicko learns to be confident and reach for his dreams by the end of this show. Although confidence and self-worth comes from God, it is wonderful to see someone realizing their worth and not putting themselves down.

Family is also an important element in this movie. Nicko wants to know his dad even more than he wants to fly, and he is willing to risk everything to find him. We also learn that Julius's family was eaten by wolves, and that is why he is so protective of Nicko and doesn't want him to find his father. ***SPOILER*** In the end, Nicko realizes that Julius has really been a father to him all his life and that is enough for him. Julius weeps with joy upon hearing his dream come true. ***END SPOILER***

Determination and bravery play key roles, as well. Along with bravery comes many acts of selflessness. Specs is willing to risk his life for his love, and she likewise for him. Many times Julius helps out Nicko in a tough spot. Nicko, also, helps many different characters when needed. Wilma saves Nicko and Julius as well.

Nicko has built up a huge image of his dad. When he meets him and sees that he isn't the perfect reindeer, Nicko realizes that people aren't always what you think they are. Often we will have a person built up on a pedestal and think they can do no wrong. However, no one is perfect, and we often get hurt by the person when they fall. Absolute faith and trust should never be placed in a person; they belong to God alone.

Although Nicko is disobedient and goes away from the herd, he is punished and gets in big trouble for it later. Also, when he comes back home after running away, Nicko says he's sorry for leaving. Although neither time was it very clear what he did was wrong, I was relieved that he at least tried to make things right.

Julius tells Nicko to keep his chin up and ignore bullies when they tease him (although Julius doesn't take that same advice). A song mentions praying in it.


The biggest problem with this movie is the violence. Although it is G-rated, it probably should have been PG. A Santa dummy is thrown about and catches on fire, many times reindeer or wolves are knocked off their feet, Nicko falls many times while trying to fly, there are several close calls where the wolves almost eat the other animals, pine cones are thrown at wolves’ eyes, wolves pounce on one another, animals crash into each other (sometimes on purpose), Julius flies into a tree as does another reindeer, several creatures are buried numerous times in snow, the wind blows Julius about in a snow storm, wolves talk about eating others and surround their victims, there are several avalanches, Nicko and Julius jump across a scary river, Nicko and his pals also fall into a huge canyon onto rocks and almost go over a waterfall, huge icicles fall and almost crush animals, Nicko is almost run over by other reindeer, Nicko kicks Julius, and Julius pokes on the wolves in his behind with a icicle. Also the wolves are very scary at some parts, especially when they talk about eating children.

Also, the whole concept about Nicko's parents was rather disturbing. His dad had taken his mother out for one night, and they never met again. She never had the chance to tell him that they had a baby. Granted these are reindeer, not people, but children don't always make that distinction. Also, there are hints given about “The Flying Forces” taking out ladies all the time. Wilma has a habit of wiggling her hips and leaning on and caressing Julius. When Julius falls on top of Wilma by accident, she says, “Can't you keep your hands off me for one second?” Saga kisses Nicko at the end.

Several words such as “Darn!”, “Heck!”, “hind”, “jinx”, “lucky charm”, “nut boy”, and “Shut up!” are used. Someone asks if one character is “simple in the head,” and Julius mocks Wilma. Nicko tells Julius that he doesn't need help and never wants to see him again. The reindeer drink something that look like beer and then burp. Bullies tease Nicko.

Although repentance does happen, Nicko is still a very disobedient reindeer. He sneaks away after saying he wouldn't, he runs away from his herd, and rarely listens to his mother or Julius. Wilma, as well, ran away from home when she was younger because they didn't want her to be a singer. And Julius on his part doesn't do much to stop Nicko. In fact, he lets Nicko do almost anything! Also, after giving his good advice about ignoring bullies, Julius throws snowballs at them and says, “Now that's ignoring!” We certainly don't want to set these types of examples in our youth!

Although expected, it is disappointing to see none of the true meaning of Christmas in this movie. It is all filled with reindeer, Santa, and family. In fact, music that sounds like angel choirs plays when you first see Santa and his reindeer. Nothing is ever mentioned about Jesus or God, except for a reference to praying.

Nicko's mother destroys some of the message about family when she says that she doesn't miss Nicko's dad and doesn't need him. Julius tells Nicko to not think; just believe. This could be taken to say just follow your heart and feelings, don't think about the consequences.

Overall, I found this movie a huge disappointment. I was expecting a cute, if corny, movie that had sweet values. However, it glorified disobeying, had violence and hints of sexual situations, and didn't live up to its message about family. I advise families to steer clear of this holiday movie.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—Amazing ! If you ever had any curiosity, you would have know that the original title was “Niko and the way to the stars.” For a strange and certainly stupid and commercial reason the Weinstein Company which distributes the movie in the States have made four big mistakes. First one was to change the title with no relation to the movie, the second issue is the DVD release. Why not in theaters? All around Europe it's released in movie theaters, and so far it's a success.

The fourth and the worst mistake is certainly the DVD cover which is a complete lie about the movie because it transform it into a Christmas-sweet-candy-baby basic movie. And to finish, the last mistake was to change the voices of two characters from the original version (which was english speaking already. Why did they do that ?), and believe me, the original voices were much much greater than these two. It concerns Julius and Wilma.

But your all analysis is missing the point, from my point of view. When I read the review it seems that you don't live at the same century than me. Kids are not stupid, and this movie talks about real things that really happens in the human world. I think the dvd cover and the title are lying to the audience but on the other way you're lying to your kids if you never tell them how the world is, what could happen, why people are sometimes mean, why him and her had to live away from each other, etc. I think that movie is giving you an oportunity, and a quite sweet one, to speak with your children about real life. There's some danger, there's some mean attitudes, there's many things that are introduced in a nice situation, better than on live actions movies with even more viloence, sexual words or attitudes or else.

And about the Christian aspect of the movie, I was educated on the path of God, and I really believe that these aspects you're describing as bad are quite the opposite. If you read the Bible, there's mean people, there's violence, there's danger, why don't you accept it in that movie, with such a nice picture and animals, just like the kids love.

I've seen the movie here, in Europe, in a movie theater, and kids were laughing, sometimes crying a little bit, they were reacting! Isn't that good, isn't that something you expect from a movie? Or maybe do you prefer to put your kids in front of the tv and let them watch whatever they want ?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Ludo, age 31 (France) (I'm just a person, with no relevant affiliation.)
Negative—We're halfway into this movie. Wish I had seen your review before we started it. I was hoping the whole (unexpected) one-night stand issue would go over the kids’ head—unfortunately, it seems to be the main theme running through the movie. Definitely wouldn't start this movie with the kids.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
T, age 38
Negative—I am sorry, but someone must explain how a fatherless reindeer has anything to do with Christmas. The morality of many of the older Christmas shows are very clear. This show promotes in the saddest of senses the lack of the male role model stepping up and being with the boys mother from the begining. The dance by the weasel alone was totally tasteless. I think this should be included in the banned at christmas time catagory (any one remember Silent Night Deadly Night). I am saddened that today’s society is promoting such garbage. We need a stronger morality with Children's Cartoons. Their minds are too impressionable at the earliest of ages. I do realize that there are familys where the father is not in the picture or where the mother is the absent parent but why does this have to be brought out in cartoons. Especially Christmas cartoons. If the title is going to have Christmas in the title and the root word of Christmas is Christ then let’s keep Christ in there somewhere.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Jay, age 42
Comments from young people
Positive—This is a good movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Joseph, age 12 (USA)