Christmas Ranch (2016)

Rated: PG

Genres: Drama, Family

Starring: Francine Locke and Taylor Lyons

Synopsis: A rebellious teenager is sent to her grandmother’s horse ranch for the Christmas holiday. 

Review: The teenager is a typical angry and resentful brat.  If she wasn’t, there wouldn’t be an opportunity for change.  Add in the grandmother about to lose her ranch and the teenaged next-door neighbor boy and there’s just enough to make it interesting.  There aren’t too many surprises and I was a little bored but it was decent.  Of course, it gave us the overly happy ending.

Scoring: 2

A Christmas Recipe For Romance (2019)

Rated: PG

Genres: Drama, Romance

Starring: Madeline Leon and Sebastian Sacco

Synopsis: The owner of a historic inn decides to enter a prestigious cooking contest to win funds for renovations and get free publicity, but she is a horrible cook. She recruits a renowned chef to help but the kitchen isn't the only thing heating up.

Review: A standard and expected story. It felt like a superficial version of what could’ve been a deep and moving story. The loss of parents, the loss of a brother, illness, a business in trouble, all add up to an emotional plot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t done that way. It’s okay overall but not even super Christmasy. 

Scoring: 2

Christmas Reservations (2019)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Romance

Starring: Melissa Joan Hart, Markie Post, Ted McGinley, and Michael Gross

Synopsis: An event coordinator is reunited with her college sweetheart and his two children.

Review: The movie is filled with interesting characters as well as the multiple meaning of the word reservations.  The characters are likable with some funny situations.  I wish they didn’t gloss over the Christmas aspects as much as they did and the character of Kay was way too over the top.  Other than that, it’s a typical nice movie.  I enjoyed watching it but it’s not one I’ll watch over and over again.

Scoring: 3

A Christmas Reunion (2015)
Rated: G
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Romance
Starring: Denise Richards, Patrick Muldoon, Jake Busey, and Catherine Hicks
Synopsis: A Madison Avenue executive, Amy, discovers an unusual Christmas surprise when she inherits her Aunt's hometown bakery. The real surprise comes when she learns the other half of the bakery was left to her long-ago boyfriend, Jack. Unresolved personal issues resurface between them, as the exes return home to co-manage the store, along with its traditional holiday cookie bake-off.
Review:  Aunt Linda uses her bakery as a way to get Amy and Jack back together.  As expected, Amy is torn between her life and the bakery. There aren’t many surprises but it’s as sweet as their baked goods. The movie is cute but a little slow. 
Scoring: 3
 

The Christmas Reunion (2016)

Rated: NR

Genres: Drama, Religion

Starring: Shanda Lee Munson

Synopsis: The mid-west town of Cave City, Kentucky is preparing for its annual Christmas festival, when festivities are disrupted by a sudden snowstorm. While sitting out the blizzard, a group of former friends who have returned for a high school reunion discover what has happened in the intervening years.

Review: This is a low budget movie.  Given that, it was good.  Some of the acting was beyond over the top but the main characters were good.  They really carried the story.  The Elvis-like mayor was really too much.  It’s all about accepting God and changing yourself for the better.  The main message is religion.

Scoring: 3

The Christmas Ride (2020)

Rated: PG13

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family

Starring: Daryen Ratté, Dina Najjar, and Austin Janowsky

Synopsis: On Christmas Day, a rideshare driver turns on her app and experiences the true ups and downs of the holiday season. Through empathy and active listening, Georgia does her best to understand the situations surrounding her to help make the season brighter

Review: This movie strips away the superficial aspects of the holiday and shows the bare raw emotions of the season.  From joy and new beginnings to sadness and endings.  The pace is perfect.  Breaking in the middle of all the rides for the video chat with her father is the perfect way to keep the movie moving and preventing monotony.  I think everyone will find something and/or someone to relate to. 

Scoring: 3

Christmas Scavenger Hunt (2019)

Rated: G

Genres: Comedy, Romance

Starring: Kim Shaw and Kevin McGarry

Synopsis: Belinda is forced to team up with her ex-boyfriend for the town’s annual Christmas Scavenger Hunt.

Review: I felt like there were too many stories going on simultaneously so they didn’t get far enough into any one.  It has the expected and happy ending we all know and love.  It did make me want to do a scavenger hunt so it got the joy of that adventure across.  It’s a sweet love story and includes the value of community and reaching out to those who are alone during the holidays.

Scoring: 3

The Christmas Secret (2000) AKA Flight Of The Reindeer
Rated: G
Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Richard Thomas, Beau Bridges, and Maria Pitillo
Synopsis: Jerry alienates his family and puts his job in danger with his obsession of proving that reindeer fly. While trying to prove this, Jerry crashes his plane and ends up at the North Pole. 
Review:  Jerry putting his job and his family on the line in order to prove reindeer fly makes him someone you don't like very much.  I found this beginning part a little boring, maybe because of Jerry's behavior, but once we get to the North Pole it’s magical. This is my favorite North Pole I’ve seen. Seeing Jerry and his family realize how much they mean to each other is special. I loved the message of believing and putting others first. 
Scoring: 3
The Christmas Secret (2014)
Rated: G
Genres: Drama, Family, Romance
Starring: Bethany Joy Lenz, John Reardon, Jaeda Lilly Miller, and Greyston Holt
Synopsis: Christine Eisley's life is coming undone. She's been fired from her job, evicted from her home and her ex-husband is taking her to court for custody of their children. To make matters worse, she's misplaced a very special family heirloom, a star-shaped locket handed down from her father, who disappeared from her life when she was a young girl. But things seem to be looking a little brighter for Christine when she lands a new job working with a gregarious bakery owner and a holiday romance begins to blossom with Jason, the handsome grandson of a sweet couple who own a popular local store. As she uncovers a long-standing family secret, Christine's luck might be starting to turn, bringing her good fortune and true love just in time for Christmas.
Review:  I love how this movie unfolded. I was truly invested in the characters and the story. It’s enjoyable to see how lives intersect in unexpected ways. 
Scoring: 3
The Christmas Shepherd (2014)
Rated: G
Genres: Drama, Family, Romance
Starring: Teri Polo and Martin Cummins
Synopsis: Sally is heartbroken when her dog runs away during a thunderstorm. When she learns he was found by Mark, a widower, she travels to Boston to get him. Sally and Mark are given the best Christmas gift of their lives when they fall in love. 
Review:   Sally losing her husband in combat and her son being in the armed forces reminds us of the sacrifices military families make. I love that message. You see how Buddy, the German Shepherd, is her only tie to her husband. Buddy and Emma become the reason Sally and Mark keep seeing each other. This is a lovely story about letting down walls and being open to others.
Scoring: 4
The Christmas Shoes (2002)
Rated: G
Genres: Drama
Starring: Rob Lowe and Kimberly Williams-Paisley
Synopsis: Two separate stories mesh - in the first, a young music teacher, Maggie Andrews, begins dying of a heart condition and her son Nathan tries to get a pair of Christmas shoes for her before she dies. In the second, lawyer Robert Layton and his wife Kate are slowly drifting apart and the matter comes to a head during Christmas when Kate takes over for Maggie for the school choir and declines a job in Robert's firm. When Robert's mother passes away, he begins to reconsider things and his and Nathan's paths cross on Christmas Eve as Nathan tries to raise the money for the shoes and Robert tries to get a present for his daughter.
Review:  While dramatic and moving, it lacked something. I felt detached from most of the characters. It is a heavy subject matter so that may have played a role in my feelings. If you like very serious dramas you may enjoy this.
Scoring: 2

A Christmas Snow (2010)

Rated: PG

Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy, Religion

Starring: Catherine Mary Stewart

Synopsis: A woman refuses to celebrate Christmas, because of her father abandoning his family during the holiday.

Review:  It looks cheaply made and some of the acting is poor but if you hang in for the ending, you’ll really feel the message and spirit of this movie. It’s worth it. 

Scoring: 3

 

Christmas Solo (2017)

Rated: NR

Genres: Drama, Family, Romance

Starring: Kelli Williams and Jonathan Scarfe

Synopsis: Two single parents stumble into the possibility of love for Christmas, only to discover that their daughters are embroiled in a nasty rivalry at school. When the rivalry gets out of control, can hope and healing lead everyone to a peaceful and merry Christmas?

Review:   It’s hard to make a viewer feel empathy for the mean girl but they did it, to a point. With one teen struggling with her mother moving away and the other with her father’s death, they’re easy to relate to for someone who has suffered a loss. Even with that there’s a lightness and an ease to it. 

Scoring: 3

 

Christmas Song (2012)
Rated: NR
Genres: Drama, Musical, Romance
Starring: Natasha Henstridge and Gabriel Hogan
Synopsis: Romance blossoms between two music teachers who compete for the same job.
Review:  Somewhat expected plot with fairly plain and boring characters. It’s nice that they come together in the end but it’s not an exciting trip to get there. 
Scoring: 2

Christmas Spirit (2011)

Rated: G

Genres: Family, Fantasy

Starring: Alexandra Paul, Jason Brooks, Judy Landers, and Maureen McCormick

Synopsis: A cynical youth whose mother is about to lose her job right before the holidays is visited by a magical Christmas spirit.

Review: The movie is a little over the top with the way they present the spirit, other than that it’s a good family film.  It emphasizes family being a priority.  I especially loved how the grandmother’s presence made such a difference.  A lot of families will be able to relate to this story.

Scoring: 3

The Christmas Spirit (2013)
Rated: PG
Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance
Starring: Nicollette Sheridan, Olympia Dukakis, and Bart Johnson
Synopsis: Charlotte, a journalist, and Daniel, a real estate developer, are in a car accident and both end up in comas but their spirits are awake. As spirits they try to get the town’s development vote to go each of their ways. 
Review:  The movie is a little slow but still interesting enough to watch. Of course it has a happy ending. The addition of Charlotte’s brother being away in the armed forces and her family adds a nice layer. Charlotte's relationship with the townspeople and her family are inspiring.
Scoring: 2
 

Christmas Stallion (1992)

Rated: PG

Genres: Drama

Starring: Daniel J. Travanti and Siân MacLean

Synopsis: Sixteen year old Gwen Davies adores the horses she and her grandfather have raised on the beautiful Welsh Mountains. However, when her grandfather dies her uncle must either sell the farm to a greedy land developer, or allow Gwen to keep the farm, opening the wounds of his tragic past in the process.

Review:  This movie appears quite amateurish. MacLean does a great job but Travanti was poor casting. The story starts so slowly I never quite got interested. 

Scoring: 2

 

 

A Christmas Star (2017)

Rated: G

Genres: Drama, Family

Starring: Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan

Synopsis: Born under the Christmas Star, Noelle believes she has the gift to perform miracles.  So when conniving developer McKerrod threatens her peaceful life she and her friends determine to use this gift to thwart his plans and save their village.

Review:  It’s a cute movie but it’s a little silly and far-fetched. Like bodyguards being afraid of children who have whistles. I liked the inclusion of a child with special needs. The best part is the children who are the stars. It’s a nice family film. 

Scoring: 3

 

The Christmas Star (1986)

Rated: G

Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Ed Asner, Rene Auberjonois, and Fred Gwynne

Synopsis: A counterfeiter finds the true meaning of the holidays.

Review: The movie sets up as if Santa, the counterfeiter in costume, is using children to help him and the children help him change his ways.  In truth, it’s the Christmas Carol type experience on the train that makes him rethink his ways.  I found it to be very slow and a little boring.  I liked the ending but the story just lacked that something special.

Scoring: 2

Christmas Stars (2019)

Rated: PG

Genres: Musical, Romance

Starring: Erica Durance and JT Hodges

Synopsis: When aspiring R&B artist Layla crosses paths with amateur songwriter Spence, she thinks she’s found her shot at finally getting a record deal.

Review: The best thing about this movie was the music, and that was average.  There’s very little Christmas spirit here.  It’s mostly about the pair wanting to become famous musicians.  Had they given us a little more back story on the characters I might have felt more invested. 

Scoring: 2

Christmas Story (2007)

Rated: PG

Genres: Drama, Fantasy

Starring: Hannu-Pekka Björkman

Synopsis: The touching fantasy tale reimagines the origin of Santa Claus as a young orphan named Nikolas, who decides to show his gratitude to the villagers who raised him by starting the Christmas tradition of gift-giving. 

Review: This was filmed in Finland and has a voiceover but it’s not too distracting. If you’re looking for a magical tale, this isn’t for you. This is a tale based on realism, up until the last couple of minutes. It imagines what life would sculpt such a person. It’s a little slow and sometimes boring. But it’s nice to have a different origin story. 

Scoring: 2

A Christmas Story (1983)
Rated: PG
Genres: Comedy, Family
Starring: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, and Darrin McGavin
Synopsis: Ralphie, a young boy growing up, dreams of owning a Red Rider BB gun. He sets out to convince the world this is the perfect gift. But along the way, he runs into opposition from his parents, his teacher, and even good ol' Santa Claus himself.
Review:  What can I say about a classic that hasn’t already been said. With the idealistic dreamer child, the younger brother, a classic mom, and a grouchy dad who actually loves his family and wants to make them happy.  The best time of year is when this movie plays for 24 hours. With classic lines like, “you’ll shoot your eye out” and "fra-gee-lay" I love it more each time I see it. 
Scoring: 5

A Christmas Story 2 (2012)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Family

Starring: Daniel Stern

Synopsis: Five years later, Ralphie has his eyes fixed on a car but trouble is sure to follow.

Review:  This is sadly disappointing. It tries to capture the magic of the first one but does it with moments trying to be funny that fall flat and repeating the most memorable moments from the first movie. One to skip. 

Scoring: 1

 

A Christmas Story Documentary: Road Trip for Ralphie (2008)

Rated: NR

Genre: Documentary

Starring: Jordie Schwatz

Synopsis: During an adventure spanning two years and two countries, two mega-fans of "A Christmas Story" set out to discover all the film's shooting locations and memorabilia.

Review:  As a huge fan of the movie, I was looking forward to this behind the scenes look.  I was so disappointed.  I don’t know if it’s how amateurish it was or how they made it so boring.  It seemed to be more about them than the movie.  If you’re a huge fan of the movie you may want to try it but I had to force myself to sit through it.

Scoring: 1

A Christmas Story Live! (2017)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Family, Musical

Starring: Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Matthew Broderick, Ken Jeong, David Alan Grier, and Jane Krakowski

Synopsis: A live broadcast of the Broadway hit "A Christmas Story: The Musical" in which Ralphie wishes for nothing more than a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.

Review:  Not nearly as good as the movie but not bad for live. The biggest flaw is Broderick as the narrator. Instead of just hearing his voice, we see him walking around. It distracts from the story. 

Scoring: 2

 

Christmas Survival (aka Surviving Christmas With the Relatives) (2018)

Rated: TV-MA

Genres: Comedy, Family

Starring: Joely Richardson, Julian Ovenden, Gemma Whelan, and Michael Landes

Synopsis: Two sisters and their families spend - or rather, endure - Christmas at their late parents' dilapidated country house.

Review: This is truly a British family comedy (but only for adults to watch).  It starts with the little girl seeing her turkey “Gobbles” and then dad trying to catch it for Christmas lunch.  There’s a large variety of characters and interesting scenarios.  I wasn’t laughing out loud but I was entertained and never bored.

Scoring: 3

A Christmas Switch (2018)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance

Starring: Jackie Seidel and Ashley Wood

Synopsis: When singer Audrey and record executive Julia collide at the mall, they wake up in each other's lives the next morning. As Christmas looms, the two women must figure out how to help each other and switch back to their original selves.

Review:  A twist on Freaky Friday, we have the perfectionist wealthy business woman detached from her family and a poor woman with a messy life who’s overly attached to her family switch bodies. Shock surprise, they learn their lessons and switch back in time for Christmas. It’s far from a new story but it’s an okay movie. The little girl steals her scenes. 

Scoring: 2

 

The Christmas Switch (2014)

Rated: NR

Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Brian Krause and Natasha Henstridge

Synopsis: Through Eddie's wit and guile, he gives Sam that last night and finally finds the real meaning of Christmas the gambler's way.

Review: This movie had the potential to be a really good story. Unfortunately, the way it was done leaves a lot to be desired. They took what could've been a heartfelt story and made it ho hum. I didn't even care what happened to the characters at the end. It wouldn't hurt to see it once but that's it.

Scoring: 2