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
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.
Babes In Toyland (1961)
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.
Babes In Toyland (1986)
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
A Baby For Christmas
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.
Back To Christmas AKA Correcting Christmas
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.
A Bad Mom’s Christmas
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.
Barbie In The Nutcracker
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.
Battle Of The Bulbs
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.
Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure
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.
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.
Believe: The True Story of Real Bearded Santas
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.
A Belle For Christmas
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.
imaginations as they plan parties is amazing. Despite their tensions, the story makes them both likable. I really enjoyed watching their journey.
The Best Man Holiday
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.
Beverly Hills Christmas
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.
Beyond Tomorrow (1940)
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.
The Bishop’s Wife
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.
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.
A Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas
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.
Bob’s Broken Sleigh
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.
The Borrowed Christmas
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.
Buster And Chauncey’s Silent Night
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.