Review: ‘Dashing Through the Snow’ is a family-friendly delight

Dashing Through the Snow is a heartwarming and cute, family-friendly movie that’s a great addition to family movie night in the Christmas season. With strong themes of family, meaningful diverse representation, and a smart premise tied to familiar Christmas tropes, Dashing Through the Snow is a rare win for the whole family. 

The story of Dashing Through the Snow

Eddie Garrick (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) is a crisis counselor with a good heart. Because of past childhood trauma (complete with a retelling in an old mall!), Eddie doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas. When his estranged wife, Allison (Teyonah Parris) requests he take their daughter Charlotte (Madison Skye Validum) on Christmas Eve, he reluctantly agrees. Their daddy-daughter plans take a turn during a chimney mishap at a neighbor’s house when they encounter a mysterious and jolly man in a red suit named Nick (Lil Rey Howey.)

At first, Eddie thinks Nick is delusional and requires professional help. But Charlotte loves Christmas and believes Nick. They are drawn into a whirlwind adventure. It challenges Eddie’s preconceptions and threatens to rekindle his belief in Christmas magic.

 As Nick faces the wrath of a corrupt politician named Conrad Harf (Oscar Nuñez), he and Eddie form an unlikely alliance. Because, after all, Eddie can’t look on and let someone who may need help suffer. They embark on a journey that includes NORAD-hacking Santa trackers, a Santa karaoke bar, and steampunk elves. Along the way, Eddie’s preconceived notions are challenged (hello, character growth!), and his faith in the Christmas spirit is reignited quite triumphantly.

Dashing Through the Snow is directed by Tim Story and written by Scott Rosenberg. 

A dashing cast

Chris “Ludacris” Bridges gives an outstanding performance as Eddie Garrick. It’s a big departure from his Tej Parker in The Fast and the Furious. He brings a deadpan stoicism that gives off a strong dad just trying to survive this season he hates vibes. Ludacris is the perfect straight man for Lil Rey Howey’s comedic Santa. The pairing reminds me of James Caan and Will Ferrell from Elf. Combined with the comedy, the heart that Ludacris brings to the screen makes us really root for Eddie and his family. 

(L-R): Lil Rel Howery as Nick and Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges as Eddie in DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Steve Dietl. Image courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc.


Lil Rey Howey is such a fun and memorable Saint Nick. He ups the comedy (and glitter and cinnamon!) and has terrific timing. Howey is Santa Claus, and the magic of his performance makes you believe. He’s a great comedic foil for Ludacris‘ Eddie. And watching their back and forth makes the movie a breeze. 

Madison Skye Validum is completely charming and adorable as Eddie and Allison’s daughter, Charlotte. She has the Christmas twinkle in her eye and is a joy for every moment she’s on screen. 

November is a busy Disney month for Teyonah Parris. Earlier in November, she starred in The Marvels (read our review of the movie here) with Brie Larson and Iman Vellani. This is quite the different role, and Parris only has a little screen time, but she does a great job opposite of Bridges as Allison.

Dashing Through the Snow is an old-school family friendly film

Dashing Through the Snow does contain some mild violence, but it’s mostly played for laughs and doesn’t veer into scary or gory territory. The film is rated PG but it’s mild. There’s a scene where a would-be robber dressed as Santa gets into a physical altercation with the main character’s dad at the film’s beginning.  There’s also another scene towards the end where Santa’s reindeer get a bit animated and thrash. However, these moments are more reminiscent of the Three Stooges’ physical humor than anything truly frightening or unsettling. This a film the whole family can watch after dinner and before bed without worrying about nightmares.

The villain of Dashing Through the Snow

The villain in Dashing Through the Snow is more for comedic relief than to put any main characters in peril. Eddie Garrick’s lack of faith is the true obstacle that must be overcome for everything to work out. (Because this is a family-friendly Christmas movie, we know it will be overcome and have a happy ending.) Oscar Nuñez’s corrupt Congressman Conrad Harf is the useful vehicle for this to happen.

Harf is a bit cartoonish, lacking a twirling mustache and top hat à la Mayor Humdinger from Paw Patrol. His villainy is rooted in a simple-to-understand concept of a politician who takes bribes, doing his best to keep the world from finding out. Also, à la Mayor Humdinger in Paw Patrol, Harf has a trio of henchmen, amusingly named Peter, Paul, and Mary.

Harf’s villainy is never really a genuine threat to Eddie, Santa, or Charlotte, and he is more of a nuisance than anything else. In the end, Christmas magic defeats Harf.

Solid themes for a family movie

There’s a lot of really refreshing and positive messaging in  Dashing Through the Snow. Eddie doesn’t like Christmas because of his past trauma, but he’s trying for the sake of his daughter. His marriage is on the rocks, but the relationship with his estranged wife is respectful, and there’s talk of the characters working through things in therapy. There are also sweet moments as they successfully co-parent Charlotte.

Eddie’s journey of rediscovering the Christmas spirit is a central theme of Dashing Through the Snow. His skepticism, rooted in those bad childhood experiences,  gradually crumbles as he experiences the season’s magic firsthand. The reindeer clicker’s mismatched Bluetooth pairing serves as a clever symbol of Eddie’s rekindled belief, a tangible manifestation of his newfound belief. 

On a broader note, finding Christmas spirit is a well-trodden and beloved Christmas movie trope. And it’s well done in Dashing Through the Snow. Lil Rel Howey and Ludacris beautifully play off each other with great comedic timing to bring it to life. Just as James Caan’s Walter Hobbs in Elf and Tim Allen’s character in The Santa Claus overcame their doubts, Eddie’s surrender to the magic of Christmas spells the end of Harf’s reign of comical mischief. 

Dashing Through the Snow goes beyond heartwarming holiday cheer to have meaningful and authentic representation, ensuring that every viewer feels seen and celebrated. It was great to see on the screen. 

Final thoughts on Dashing Through the Snow

Dashing Through the Snow is heartwarming and hilarious, with us laughing and cheering aloud through so much of the movie. As a Philadelphia native, I couldn’t help but cheer when the instrumental Rocky theme song played at the end and the reindeer descended from the sky. (Kudos to composer Christopher Lennertz!) This was such a great screenwriting payoff, too, as it was mentioned earlier in the film that Rocky was a favorite of the reindeer. 

Dashing Through the Snow is a great post-Thanksgiving movie and a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season. It’s worth the watch and the rewatch. 

How to watch Dashing Through the Snow

Dashing Through the Snow is now streaming on Disney+. Check it out however you like to view your streaming media.

Your thoughts

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You can read all of our reviews about children’s and family movies and TV shows here. 

Want more holiday movies? Check out our review of the decidedly grown up Freevee film EXmas with Robbie Amell and Leighton Meester. If you’re still in Turkey-day mode, check out our review of Eli Roth’s new horror movie Thanksgiving.