Christmas Ranch (2016)
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.
A Christmas Recipe For Romance (2019)
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.
Christmas Reservations (2019)
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.
The Christmas Reunion (2016)
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.
The Christmas Ride (2020)
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.
Christmas Scavenger Hunt (2019)
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.
A Christmas Snow (2010)
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.
Christmas Solo (2017)
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.
Christmas Spirit (2011)
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.
Christmas Stallion (1992)
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.
A Christmas Star (2017)
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.
The Christmas Star (1986)
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.
Christmas Stars (2019)
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.
Christmas Story (2007)
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.
A Christmas Story 2 (2012)
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.
A Christmas Story Documentary: Road Trip for Ralphie (2008)
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.
A Christmas Story Live! (2017)
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.
Christmas Survival (aka Surviving Christmas With the Relatives) (2018)
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.
A Christmas Switch (2018)
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.
The Christmas Switch (2014)
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.