Each movie listed includes: 

(1) Title (2) Rating (3) Genres (4) Starring (5) Synopsis (6) My Personal Review (7) Scoring 1-5

 

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Babes In Toyland (1934) AKA March Of The Wooden Soldiers

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical

Starring: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

Synopsis: Ollie Dee and Stanley Dum try to borrow money from their employer, the toymaker, to pay off the mortgage on Mother Peep's shoe and keep it and Little Bo Peep from the clutches of the evil Barnaby. When that fails, they trick Barnaby into marrying Stanley Dum instead of Bo Peep. Enraged, Barnaby unleashes the bogeymen from their caverns to destroy Toyland.

Review:  This is my favorite of all the versions. It has a certain whimsy and magic the others can’t capture. Laurel and Hardy shine here. It’s fun for the family. I loved seeing familiar Mother Goose characters and elements.

Scoring: 4

 

Babes In Toyland (1961)

Rated: NR

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance

Starring: Ray Bolger, Tommy Sands, Annette Funicello

Synopsis: Tom the Piper's Son is about to marry Mary Quite Contrary. On the eve of their wedding, evil miser Barnaby hires two henchmen to drown Tom and steal Mary's sheep, cared for by Little Bo Peep, thus depriving Mary and the children she lives with of their livelihood, forcing her to marry Barnaby. The sheep are stolen, but Gonzorgo and Roderigo, Barnaby's henchmen, double-cross him by selling Tom to a band of gypsies instead, leaving Tom with the opportunity to escape and make his way back to Mary, Bo-Peep, and other Mother Goose characters to Toyland.

Review:  This is a movie that most young children will like. Especially with familiar characters like Little Bo Peep. Adults will probably love it or hate it. I didn’t mind it but it’s not one I’d list as a favorite. 

Scoring: 2

 

Babes In Toyland (1986)

Rated: G

Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Keanu Reeves, Eileen Brennan, and Richard Mulligan

Synopsis: 11-year-old Lisa has no time for toys; she's too busy taking care of her siblings and cooking for her mother. During the Christmas Eve blizzard, Lisa travels to Toyland in Wizard of Oz-like fashion and arrives just in time for a wedding. Young Mary Contrary is about to marry mean, old Barnaby Barnacle, despite the fact that she loves Jack Be Nimble. Lisa tries to stop this terrible wedding, and together with her new friends, discovers that Barnaby wants to take over Toyland. Lisa, Mary, Jack, and Georgie Porgie ask the Toymaster for help, but he can't help them as long as Lisa doesn't truly believe in toys.

Review:  I should preface this with I love Keanu Reeves but even he couldn’t save this for me. It was so over-the-top sweet and slow and silly. Maybe really young children would like it but it’s a one and done for me

Scoring: 1

 

A Baby For Christmas 

Rated: PG

Genre: Family

Starring: Malinda Williams and Karon Riley

Synopsis: It's Christmas with the Chandlers but no one seems to have the Christmas spirit - except for Stephanie, that is. Marci and Blair are obsessing over being the perfect parents, Myra and Donald have retired and suddenly feel useless and Elizabeth is bending over backwards to get a promotion at work. Add to that Stephanie's blooming romance with Lawrence - who is torn between being with her and continuing his mission work - and Christmas seems to be taking a back seat. That is, until a group of kids at an orphanage help the family to realize that there's more to Christmas than wrapping gifts and baking cookies.

Review:  Watching the third movie in the series, at first I was disappointed with how disconnected the family was. As the movie went on I got the reason for it.  You’ll enjoy it more if you’ve seen the first two movies.

Scoring: 3

 

Baby's First Christmas
Rated: NR
Genres: Family, Romance
Starring: Casper Van Dien and Rachel Wilson 
Synopsis: When a pair of feuding colleagues, Kyle and Jenna, are thrown together after their siblings, Jim and Trisha, fall in love, they have to learn to get along in time for their nephew's birth on Christmas. Realizing Jim and Trisha have major money troubles, Kyle and Jenna band together to help and end up on a snowy New York adventure that will prove miracles really do happen at Christmas.
Review:  The movie is a little slow and expected. Jenna is idealistic and Kyle is cynical and they have to work together. Not surprisingly finally they do with the help of their niece. The little girl is the best part. The constant tension and fighting, while needed for the plot, was done in a way that's uncomfortable and uninteresting to watch.
Scoring: 2

Back To Christmas AKA Correcting Christmas 

Rated: PG

Genres: Drama, Family, Romance

Starring: Kelly Overton

Synopsis: A woman travels back one year in time to the Christmas before her broken engagement and tries to repair what went wrong. She discovers that this is a challenging undertaking.

Review: While the premise is an overused one, here it is done in a good way. Ali truly struggles with the decisions she has to make and it’s got some small surprising moments. The concept of wanting to change choices we made in the past is relatable.  Enjoyable movie.

Scoring: 3

 

A Bad Mom’s Christmas

Rated: R

Genres: Comedy, Family

Starring: Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Christine Baranski, Peter Gallagher, Susan Sarandon, and Cheryl Hines

Synopsis: As their own mothers drop in unexpectedly, our three under-appreciated and over-burdened moms rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for mothers: Christmas.

Review: I didn’t see Bad Moms so maybe I would’ve liked this one more had I seen the first movie. It took quite a while before I even laughed once.  It seemed so far-fetched, in a bad way, that it became ridiculous rather than funny. I wouldn’t even classify it as so bad it’s good. If you liked the first one, give this a try. It was far from the worst movie I’ve ever seen but it’s a one and done for me.

Scoring: 2

Barbie In The Nutcracker

Rated: TV-Y

Genres: Animation, Fantasy, Musical

Starring: Kelly Sheridan and Tim Curry

Synopsis: Barbie shows that if you are kind, clever and brave, anything is possible in this tale of Clara and her amazing Nutcracker, who set off on an adventure to find the Sugarplum Princess.

Review:  I think this would be a good introduction to the Nutcracker for young children.  It’s definitely not horrible for adults to sit through but I don’t think you’d enjoy it as much.

Scoring: 2

Battle Of The Bulbs

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Family

Starring: Daniel Stern, Matt Frewer, Teryl Rothey, and Emily Tennant

Synopsis: Bob Wallace makes sure to go all out every year on Christmas decorations so that he can have the brightest and most festive house in his neighborhood. This year, he notices that his new neighbor has put up an even brighter and more lavish display. The fight is on when they declare war for the best Christmas decoration display in the neighborhood.

Review:  A watered down version of Deck The Halls makes this movie an exercise in comparisons. There’s plenty of Christmas to see. It’s still enjoyable for at least one viewing.

Scoring: 3

 

 

Becoming Santa 
Rated: PG
Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Romance
Starring: Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter, Laura Bell Bundy, and Jesse Hutch
Synopsis: Connor, who develops toys for a toy company, is ready to propose to his girlfriend Holly, a veterinarian. When he goes home with her to meet her parents, they try testing him without his knowledge to see if he can become Santa. It doesn’t help that Jack Frost wants to marry Holly and is sabotaging him. 
Review:  This movie has humor and is a fun watch. I can’t imagine finding out my future in-laws are THE Santa and Mrs. Claus. Connor is put through the ringer and we get to watch and root for him as we root against Jack Frost. This movie has humor and is a fun watch.
Scoring: 4

Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Fantasy

Starring: John Cleese

Synopsis: A Christmas Elf accidentally takes off in Santa's sleigh, crash lands in a small town, and loses the magic toy bag. Beethoven must rescue the Elf, recover the bag from greedy crooks, and return the sleigh to Santa in time to save Christmas.

Review:  As silly as the other Beethoven movies. If you like others in the series you’ll like this one. I think it’s more for children.  I found it to be lacking in appeal to adults. 

Scoring: 2

 

Believe (2016)

Rated: PG

Genres: Drama, Family, Religion

Starring: Ryan O’Quinn, Shawnee Smith, and David Deluise

Synopsis: After his family-run factory falters, jeopardizing his town's beloved holiday pageant, businessman Matthew faces a crisis of character and faith.

Review:  The synopsis and the beginning of the movie don’t do it justice.  Hang in there because it’s amazing.  It’s all about hope, faith, giving, and community.  It’s religious but in a more subtle way.  The little boy will steal your heart.  Definitely one to watch.

Scoring: 4

 

Believe: The True Story of Real Bearded Santas

Rated: NR

Genre: Documentaary

Starring: N/A

Synopsis: A cinematic sleigh ride deep into the strange but true world of the 'real bearded Santas,' including visits to Santa Claus University, and the annual convention of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas. 'Believe' chronicles a year in the life of several actual real-bearded Santas from across the country. For these men, it's not just a job - it's a calling. And they'll

stop at nothing to perpetuate the myth and magic of Santa Claus. 

Review: I found it to be a really interesting behind the scenes look at not only how these Santas do what they do but the emotional reward they do it for. It also shows the reality of how it affects their marriages and what it’s like to be a black Santa. If you’re interested in seeing behind the curtain, give it a try. It won’t make you believe less but it may make you believe more.

Scoring: 3

A Belle For Christmas 

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family

Starring: Dean Cain, Kristy Swanson, and Haylie Duff

Synopsis: When a sweet young boy and his precocious sister discover their newly adopted puppy Belle has been nabbed by the beautiful gold digger dating their widowed dad on Christmas Eve, the kids recruit their neighborhood friends and set out on an adventurous rescue mission to save her.

Review:  Another dog movie. They all feel and seem the same. Children should enjoy watching the kids and the puppy. Adults not so much. It just feels like a recycled plot. 

Scoring: 2

 

Best Christmas Party Ever
Rated: G
Genres: Drama, Family, Romance
Starring: Torrey DeVitto and Steve Lund
Synopsis: Jennie is expecting to take over the party planning business she works for until the nephew of her boss shows up. They have different styles and butt heads but have to work together to plan a Christmas party for needy children.
Review: Jennie’s disappointment when she finds out she isn’t taking over the company as well as her frustration that she must work with her boss’s nephew is so relatable. Their different styles and butting heads keep it fresh. I particularly liked seeing people who disagree but handle it with kindness and respect. Their

imaginations as they plan parties is amazing. Despite their tensions, the story makes them both likable. I really enjoyed watching their journey.

Scoring: 4

The Best Man Holiday

Rated:  R

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Starring: Monica Calhoun, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Taye Diggs, Terence Howard, Melissa De Sousa, Sanaa Latham, Regina Hall, Harold Perrineau, and Eddie Cibrian

Synopsis: When college friends reunite after 15 years over the Christmas holidays, they discover just how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be reignited.

Review:  This sequel to The Best Man is an amazing movie. The relationships are layered and complex. The feeling of family and friendship is palpable. Pay attention to the opening if you didn’t see the first one to understand who everyone is and how they’re related. It's truly moving.  Have the tissues ready.

Scoring: 4

 

Beverly Hills Christmas

Rated: PG

Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Donna Spangler

Synopsis: With help from a guardian angel, a spoiled rich, very material teenage girl learns that true value is found in assisting others and not in material things.

Review:  The story, while not original, was nice. Unfortunately the acting was so horrible it was awful to watch.  I truly had to force myself to sit through it begging it to get better.  It didn't.  Definitely one to miss.

Scoring: 1

 

Beyond Tomorrow (1940)

Rated: NR

Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Starring: Harry Carey

Synopsis: The ghosts of three elderly industrialists killed in an airplane crash return to Earth to help reunite a young couple whom they initially brought together.

Review:  The movie is a little slower, as many of that time were, but if you enjoy classics you won’t mind. Honestly, every time a ghost was on screen I marveled at how they did it so well so long ago. It’s a lovely stroll through time with the music, costumes, and expressions. The messages sometimes blur but it’s a nice film. 

Scoring: 3

 

The Bishop’s Wife

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Religion, Romance

Starring: Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven

Synopsis: An angel in human form enters the life of a bishop in order to help him build a new cathedral and repair his fractured marriage.

Review:  A lovely story with an angel reminding everyone about the importance of the values Christmas represents. The actors make the movie truly special.  A heartwarming story for the whole family.

Scoring: 4

 

Blizzard

Rated:  G

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Brenda Blethlyn, Whoopi Goldberg, Christopher Plummer, and Kevin Pollak

Synopsis: A young girl's aunt tells her the tale of a young ice skater and an enchanted reindeer.

Review:  I watch this every year. It’s magical and charming and appeals to all ages. It’s a story about true friendship, coping with loss, and dealing with change.  It moves fluidly through drama and fantasy.  It even has talking reindeer. 

Scoring: 4

 

A Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas

Rated: G

Genres: Family, Romance

Starring: Benjamin Ayres and Rachel Leigh Cook

Synopsis: Hotel manager Willow returns to her stunning Virginia hometown to help her sister plan a Christmas wedding at the inn her family once owned. She must work with current owner and single dad David, who wants to let go of the past.

Review: I figured this would be a standard Christmas wedding movie.  I was wrong.  It shared the message of dealing with loss and how the past affects our present and future.  I loved the little girl and all the characters.  It’s got the typical feel and pace of a Hallmark movie but it threw a curve ball.  I wasn’t quite sure how it would end and once I thought I had I wasn’t sure how they’d get there.

Scoring: 3

Bob’s Broken Sleigh

Rated: NR

Genres: Adventure, Animation, Fantasy

Starring: Cole Howard and Victor Garber

Synopsis: This Christmas movie a young magic-less elf named Bob, who finds himself on a wild sleigh ride after being ambushed by the evil puffin Fishface. Stranded in the middle of a magical forest, it's up to him and the friends he makes along the way to bring the sleigh back home in time for Christmas - if the puffins don't get it first!

Review:  I found this movie to be fairly boring.   I think it would be good for young children but it’s not enough for adults.  The story feels recycled and I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Scoring: 1

The Borrowed Christmas

Rated: NR

Genre: Family

Starring: Sherry Morris and Jeff Rose

Synopsis: John Dale has everything. Money, notoriety, the biggest house in town. But what he really wants, is a good, old fashion Christmas. With no family in town, John turns to the local "Rent-All" store and Anne Weston. Anne's store is struggling, and in an attempt to save the shop, she takes on this unusual order, from this unusual man. She goes about trying to fill the order, but ends up filling a need much greater.

Review: This is the definition of a B movie.  The acting, scenery, and some of the writing and poor.  This story, however, had the possibility of becoming a beautifully moving film.  If you can sit through the bad and try to focus on the story you may enjoy this.  I found it difficult to do.

Scoring: 2

Borrowed Hearts 
Rated: PG
Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy, Religion, Romance
Starring: Roma Downey, Eric McCormack, and Hector Elizondo
Synopsis: Kathleen's a hard-working single mother, who's saving to buy a house for herself and her daughter, Zoe. Sam is a businessman who has to pretend he has a family in order to close a deal with the mysterious Javier Del Campo. Sam owns the company that Kathleen works for, and as her boss, manages to convince her to help him out. But Del Campo is more than he seems, and it just might be Zoe who's making the real deal to get a new home for herself, her mother, and Sam.
Review:  Another one of my favorites that I watch every year. I delight in seeing Sam warm up to Kathleen and Zoe and begin to embrace Christmas. I especially enjoy the magical element of an angel guiding them.  The casting was perfect and they make the movie come to life.
Scoring: 5
A Boyfriend For Christmas 
Rated: G
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Romance
Starring: Kelli Williams, Patrick Muldoon, and Charles Durning
Synopsis: A strangely familiar man may be the answer to a 33-year-old woman’s long ago wish for true love. 
Review: This movie is one of my all time favorites. It’s sweet and charming. Watching Holly and Ryan follow their paths to each other with the help of Santa is delightful.  The supporting characters add extra dimension and interest.  Williams and Muldoon have amazing chemistry and truly bring their characters to life.
Scoring: 5
A Bramble House Christmas 
Rated: G
Genres: Drama, Family, Romance
Starring: Autumn Reeser, David Haydn-Jones, and Teryl Rothery
Synopsis: While settling his father’s estate, a man becomes suspicious as to why the man left his nurse money in his will after knowing her less than two months before he died. 
Review:  At first I worried that Finn trying to stop Willa from getting her inheritance would ruin the movie. Luckily I was wrong. The secrets slowly unfold with beautiful stories and relationships. It's a place I'd love to visit and the movie transports you there.
Scoring: 4
A Bride for Christmas 
Rated: G
Genres: Comedy, Romance
Starring: Arielle Kebbel and Andrew Walker
Synopsis: Aiden bets his friends he can convince a woman to marry him by Christmas, and he sets his sights on Jessie, a young woman who has sworn off serious relationships. 
Review:  It’s an enjoyable ride watching two people afraid of commitment as they fall for each other. The movie is light and easy to watch with plenty of laughs along the way. Kebbel makes Jessie fun and lively while Walker makes Aiden sincere and likable, despite his trying to trick Jessie.
Scoring: 4
Broadcasting Christmas
Rated: G
Genres: Drama, Family, Romance
Starring: Melissa Joan Hart, Dean Cain, Cynthia Gibb, and Jackée Harris
Synopsis: Two news broadcasters, who previously were in love, fight for a position as a morning talk show host that they both want, ultimately finding what made them like each other so much in the first place.
Review:  Delightful movie. It highlights relationships and traditions. While competing, their behavior wasn’t hateful so it made for a pleasant viewing. I enjoyed the story of the fruitcake and learning their history. 
Scoring: 3

Buster And Chauncey’s Silent Night

Rated: G

Genres: Animation, Comedy, Family, Musical

Starring: Phil Hartman, Jim Cummings, Tom Arnold, and Marie Osmond

Synopsis: Two 19th-century Austrian mice evade a voracious cat, aid a kidnapped orphan and help create a holiday classic. 

Review:  This is a movie I think kids will love. There’s a playfulness and special quality to their friendship. It’s also a movie that adults will be able to watch with their children but may not like for themselves. 

Scoring: 3