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 (2015)

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 In A Manger (2019)

Rated: G

Genres: Drama, Religion, Romance

Starring: Monica Knox and Michael Morrone

Synopsis: Christmas is about a miracle baby, but when CPS agent Alison and police officer Brock find a lost baby lying in a nativity scene, it'll take a miracle for them just to stop bickering. Can the magic of Christmas help this baby find a home - and maybe even help Alison and Brock see each other in a different light?

Review: While the primary focus of this movie isn’t religion, it is woven throughout.  The baby was adorable, of course.  Brock and Alison coming to terms with their past happens at the right pace and doesn’t take over the story.  Of course, there’s a happy ending.  But I won’t ruin it.

Scoring: 3

Baby's First Christmas (2012)
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  (2014)

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 (2017)

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

Bad Santa (2003)

Rated: R

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham, and John Ritter

Synopsis: A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid.

Review: This is the movie for everyone who wants something different. There’s cursing and adult content. I found myself sort of shocked at first but I was still laughing. It’s crude, rude, and irreverent but it works. If you want a sweet and magical Christmas movie this isn’t for you. 

Scoring: 3

Bad Santa 2 (2016)

Rated: R

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, and Christina Hendricks

Synopsis: Fueled by cheap whiskey and greed, a foul-mouthed criminal, his mean mother and their angry sidekick conspire to bilk a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve. 

Review: Just like the first one, this movie is crude with an abundance of adult language and themes. Also like the first one, it’s funny. It’s a break from the typical Christmas movie. Bates and Thornton do excellent jobs. 

Scoring: 3

Baking Christmas (2019)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family

Starring: Tim Reid, Aloma Wright, Khalilah Joi, Ninja N. Devoe, and Dawan Owens

Synopsis: Patty, the founder of a popular bakery, announces her intention LS to retire at year’s end, which prompts her three children to step up and offer their ideas for the future of the family business. 

Review: I was completed absorbed in the movie within ten minutes. I adore this family. The more the movie went on the more I liked them. I loved the mom’s challenge to them as well. I won’t spoil the ending but I hope there’s a sequel. 

Scoring: 3

Barbie In The Nutcracker (2001)

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 (2010)

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

 

 

A Beauty & The Beast Christmas (2019)

Rated: G

Genres: Family, Romance

Starring: Leah Pipes, Ryan Kelley, and Donna Mills

Synopsis: Ginger Holiday, a peppy Christmas influencer, is convinced by her agent to fake a holiday romance with viral bad boy Beau Bradley to gain more followers.

Review: If you’re looking for a new take on the traditional story, you’ll be disappointed.  I also don’t think this is for children.  The subject matter will go right over their heads and some may be inappropriate.  It is a sweet story about an innocent girl and a well-meaning guy being influenced by those around them finding themselves.

Scoring: 2

Becoming Santa (2015)
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 (2011)

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 (2017)

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 (2014)

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