Good Luck Charlie, It’s Christmas was directed by Arlene Sanford, who has numerous credits in film and television (including Disney’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas movie and the courtroom dramedy Ally McBeal). Credited writers are the show’s creators, Drew Vaupen and Phil Baker, as well as Geoff Rodkey. This was such a fun Christmas movie to revisit, and it’s interesting that it was released toward the middle of the series’ run, rather than at the end. Because of this chronological placement, the film actually informs the trajectory of the show. Spoiler alert: Amy Duncan is pregnant with Toby, the youngest of the five Duncan kids.
I love the comedy of Good Luck Charlie overall and appreciate the humor of this DCOM. The Duncans are off to Palm Springs to visit Amy’s parents for the holidays, but Teddy is already thinking about spring break. Her parents don’t want to let her go on a Florida trip with her friend Ivy. Once at the airport, Gabe and PJ set off a high alert as they go through security with gaming contraband Gabe has taped to their skin. To make their flight, the Duncans pay homage to the McCallisters in a Home Alone-style running scene — “Run Rudolph Run” is even playing. Bob Duncan (the dad) has told Teddy that if she can pay for her ticket, she can go on the spring break vacay.
Big mistake. The family boards their plane, and a flight attendant announces that the aircraft is overbooked, so a volunteer who agrees to fly out later will get complimentary airfare for a future flight. Teddy springs up from her seat to take the deal, and Amy follows her. If you’ve seen this movie, you know that the entire thing is basically a mother-daughter buddy comedy as Amy and Teddy try to find their way to Palm Springs — no flights until December 26th, so they try a bus, a Yugo, a ride with alien abduction conspiracy theorists, and a tandem bike. Along the way, Teddy and her mom have heart-to-heart talks and help a young woman who ran away from home. They manage to have compassion for her, even after she stole their luggage in Las Vegas. Teddy and Amy’s song-and-dance act to make a few bucks for dinner is pretty clever. They start out by trying to steal each other’s spotlight; when everyone starts laughing, Amy and Teddy turn their little routine into a slapstick comedy show.
Though it’s a little far-fetched that Bob, PJ, and Gabe get stuck in a real-life video game reenactment while out looking for Amy and Teddy, their B-story in Palm Springs is light and fun. PJ gets sunburned under the Florida rays, Bob chases after Charlie so she doesn’t crush her grandmother’s decorations (she does anyway), and Gabe and his grandpa get sucked into their gaming. In the end, the whole family is reunited at a roadside diner, and Amy tells the boys that she is expecting. It’s a Christmas miracle! Sometimes, it takes an involuntary road trip gone horribly wrong to really appreciate your family. Now I’m totally ready to rewatch all of Good Luck Charlie!