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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Penguin Land (2019)
Starring: Thomas Freeley
Synopsis: Zooey and Flip want to make sure that every penguin has enough food for Christmas.
Review: At first, I thought this might be a good educational video. It talks about arctic animals and what they eat during winter. It even used advanced vocabulary. Then it popped it with a menacing zombie-like polar bear and expressions like, “sucks to be you”. It got more and more boring as it went on. Definitely one to skip.
People Presents: Once Upon a Main Street (2020)
Genres: Drama, Romance
Starring: Vanessa Lachey, Ryan McPartlin, and Patrick Duffy
Synopsis: A man and a woman take over the responsibilities for an annual holiday competition.
Review: This movie is chock full of Christmas traditions and Christmas spirit. Lachey and McPartlin make a great pair. What better example of Christmas than putting aside your own needs and giving with true generosity of spirit. I knew how it would end but I truly enjoyed their banter. A great movie.
A Perfect Day (2006)
Starring: Rob Lowe, Paget Brewster, Christopher Lloyd, and Frances Conroy
Synopsis: A mysterious stranger helps a successful author reconnect with his family and his agent during Christmastime.
Review: This movie is a heavy drama without moments of levity. Despite this, it’s a great reflection of society. People can be physically present but not be there. Brewster gives an emotional performance. There may be points in the film where you want to stop watching but I suggest sticking with it for the surprise at the end.
The Perfect Gift (2009)
Genres: Drama, Religion
Starring: Jefferson Moore
Synopsis: A spoiled schoolgirl, her overworked executive mother, and a disillusioned young minister each receives an uplifting message about friendship, commitment, and the truest meaning of Christmas from a friendly, but mysterious drifter.
Review: This movie is simply done but packs a strong message about giving, faith, and love. In the beginning I found it hard to like Maxine even though I knew her behavior was partially from pain. But everyone else makes the movie worth watching, especially Jess. Inspiring.
The Perfect Gift (2011)
Genres: Drama, Family, Religion
Starring: Ruben Studdard, Golden Brooks, and Buddy Lewis
Synopsis: Hard times and holiday tensions teach a father, Michael Harris, what Christmas is all about. When both Michael and his wife Sandra's parents come for a visit, what should be a joyous and festive holiday turns into chaos. Michael learns that of all the many gifts he gives to his family, the gift of giving oneself is the greatest gift of all.
Review: There’s a good story here it just doesn’t unfold well. There’s a little too much back and forth. The fact that it looks like a play doesn’t take away from it. The acting is pretty good. It just resolves too quickly and easily. I also wish if they wanted music in it they spread it out instead of the whole end.
The Perfect Holiday (2007)
Genres: Comedy, Family
Starring: Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnut, and Queen Latifah
Synopsis: Romance blooms between a single mother and a storefront Santa.
Review: A very sweet family movie with just a dash of Christmas magic. The children being torn between wanting their parents back together and just wanting mom to be happy is something a lot of children can relate to. Their father is almost a caricature which adds humor to the movie. The children, as they often do, steal the show.
Pete’s Christmas (2013)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Molly Parker, Rick Roberts, and Bailee Madison
Synopsis: A put-upon teen finds himself reliving the same miserable Christmas day over and over again.
Review: This movie is okay. It’s one of the least successful Groundhog Day Christmas movies. There’s so much negativity and not enough levity. It feels juvenile.
Pettersson And Findus 2 (2016)
Genres: Animated, Comedy, Fantasy
Starring: Stefan Kurt
Synopsis: Christmas is just around the corner, but Pettersson and Findus are worried the snowy weather (and lack of a tree) may keep them from celebrating.
Review: There’s one major problem with this story, it’s in German. The problem is that the story appeals to very young viewers who can’t read the subtitles. Children old enough to read them probably won't like the story. So, unless you speak German, this won’t work for you.
Picking Up And Dropping Off (2003)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Romance
Starring: Scott Wolff, Amanda Detmer, Rachel Lefevre, and Eddie McClintock
Synopsis: A divorced father and a divorced mother start to meet at Denver airport when picking up and sending off their children.
Review: A sweet romantic comedy with a sprinkling of the reality of parents who only have their children part of the year.
Picture A Perfect Christmas (2019)
Genres: Drama, Romance
Starring: Merritt Patterson, Jon Cor
Synopsis: A photographer returns home to take care of her grandmother and gets involved with helping a neighbor look after his young nephew.
Review: While this movie has all the standard clichés; girl returning to small home town, single father, cute boy, grandmother with injury, and so on, it does it in what feels like a unique to this movie way. I also wasn’t sure how it would end. I thought the two might end up together, but how. I loved that. I was sure it would be a happy ending but I wasn’t sure what it would look like. There was real emotion and it kept my interest the whole time.
Pinocchio’s Christmas (1980)
Genres: Animation, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Alan King
Synopsis: Pinocchio tries to raise money for Gepetto’s Christmas present.
Review: I haven’t seen the original Pinocchio in a long time. This movie goes back to his origin. It shows him being made, how his nose started growing, and how he got paired up with Jiminy Cricket. Pinocchio, of course, has adventures and learns that gifts come from the heart, not money. It’s a sweet movie reminiscent of Rudolph and Frosty. A good family film.
Pixi Saves Christmas (2018)
Genres: Animation, Fantasy
Starring: Kate Bristol
Synopsis: For centuries, the many Christmas Genies of the world have worked together to bring magic and happiness to children. This year, however, former genie Monopolish is determined to become The One and Only Christmas Genie and launches a vicious attack on the secret Genies’ Forum. All hope for the survival of Christmas rests with Pixi Post, a lowly elf, who must use all her wits and skills to thwart his evil plan and save the most magical time of year.
Review: This movie is a cute and original story. I like the introduction of so many different cultures. There are parts that children will have questions about like why are they called genies (including Santa), why are multiple of them sitting together at a store when we aren’t supposed to see them, and who all the characters are. Still, it’s enjoyable.
Poinsettias For Christmas (2018)
Genres: Drama, Family, Romance
Starring: Bethany Joy Lenz, John Schneider, Marcus Rosner, and Sharon Lawrence
Synopsis: A woman returns home to help her father save the family poinsettia farm.
Review: I really enjoyed this movie. I enjoyed it the second time just as much. Seeing the family dynamic and how close they are made the movie special. It even has a bad girl who isn’t terrible but you understand why she’s unlikable. Seeing everyone come together and how much they care about each other and the farm kept me rooting for them.
The Polar Express (2004)
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Starring: Tom Hanks
Synopsis: On Christmas Eve, a young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express, while learning about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas.
Review: While definitely for children, this movie, based on the popular book, also appeals to adults who still believe in Christmas magic. The animated tale brings back memories of childhood wonder.
Starring: Judy Greer, Christina Hendricks, Thomas Lennon, Ian McShane, Ron Perlman, Michael Shannon
Synopsis: A man’s drunken romp in a gorilla suit gets him mistaken for Bigfoot, drawing media attention and tourist dollars to his struggling small town.
Review: It’s so hard to describe this movie. It has an A-list cast who are all phenomenal actors but the story is kind of weird. It wants to be a serious character piece, and a spoof, and a feel-good movie, all at one time. I say give it a try. The actors are worth watching. I didn’t laugh out loud. I didn’t really laugh. I will say I was amused and enjoyed it enough.
Genres: Drama, Family
Starring: Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman, and Johnny Galecki
Synopsis: A farm girl nurses a wounded reindeer she believes is one of Santa's, hoping to bring it back to health in time for Christmas. Her holiday spirit inspires those around her, something her disheartened father is having trouble understanding.
Review: There’s something beautiful about the pure belief and innocence of a child. To me that’s the best part of the film. It’s a little slow for me but I think it’s a good family film.
Prancer Returns (2001)
Genres: Drama, Family
Starring: John Corbett and Jack Palance
Synopsis: Preteen brothers from a broken marriage live with their mother, Denise, in a rural town. Ryan, the cheeky elder boy, wants to go live with their father, Matt, in Chicago. This confuses shy Charlie, the youngest, who is also the butt of bigger school kids' often mean pranks. Then he finds two reindeer on his way home from school which he believes to be Santa's called Prancer and his son and heir, also called Prancer, which he tries to hide at home. Ryan's help bonds the brothers again.
Review: Like the first Prancer movie, this is a good family film. Children with divorced parents may relate to the brothers. It’s got a lot of Christmas spirit.
The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Religion, Romance
Starring: Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston
Synopsis: An angel comes to Earth to help a preacher save his church and his family.
Review: In an updated remake of “The Bishop’s Wife”, we find a beautiful story of faith. It’s not a direct remake as they changed the story a little but I think that worked for the best. It’s slow but charming.
Pride, Prejudice & Mistletoe (2018)
Starring: Lacey Chabert and Brendan Penny
Synopsis: Darcy is a career woman who hasn't found love, but her life turns upside down when she returns home to care for her sick mother.
Review: If you’re looking for an overt take on the Austen classic, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re happy with a beautiful love story, including good people set with gorgeous Christmas displays as the background, you’ll be thrilled.
The Princess Switch (2018)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, and Nick Sagar
Synopsis: One week before Christmas, Margaret, the gorgeous Duchess of Montenaro, switches places with Stacy, a "commoner" from Chicago, who looks exactly like her. With the assistance of a magical Santa's helper, Margaret falls in love with Stacy's handsome co-worker, while Stacy falls in love with Margaret's fiance, the dashing Prince.
Review: This movie can only be described as boringly predictable or even just boring. It’s all the basic parts of every switch places movie you’ve ever seen mashed together. I had to force myself to sit through it. It’s a shame because the actors were good given what they had to work with. Younger children may like it more.
The Princess Switch: Switched Again (2020)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, and Nick Sagar
Synopsis: When Duchess Margaret unexpectedly inherits the throne to Montenaro and hits a rough patch with Kevin, it's up to her double Stacy to save the day before a new lookalike, party girl Fiona foils their plans.
Review: After having watched the first one, I was prepared for the silliness and the ridiculous story. Going into it expecting this allowed me to enjoy it more than the first. There’s even a wedding and a coronation. The recap at the beginning is brief so you may wish to watch the two movies together in order.
Project Christmas Joy (2019)
Starring: Rashad Jennings
Synopsis: In March 2019, tornadoes ravaged two small towns in Alabama. In an effort to bring Christmas joy to those who have gone through so much, our wish is to help provide some hope, and joy, to this special community for the holidays.
Review: There is a lot of repetition, especially in the video segments. That being said, it’s so moving. Have your tissues ready. The families sharing their stories give you a true understanding of their experiences. The hope and love shared by everyone, including hundreds of volunteers, is the true spirit of Christmas.
Project Christmas Wish (2020)
Genres: Family, Romance
Starring: Amanda Schull and Travis Van Winkle
Synopsis: A woman’s life becomes transformed as she works toward granting a little girl’s wish for a Christmas like she used to have with her mother.
Review: The little girl is the special star of this movie. She is the reason they are doing everything which is why they fall in love. Max is just adorable. There’s so much Christmas fun. We also have two adults working on moving on from past hurts. There’s a little drama, a lot of love, and tons of Christmas.
Project: Puppies for Christmas (2019)
Genres: Family, Religion
Starring: John Ratzenberger
Synopsis: Two young girls attempt to bring Christmas joy to a cranky old man, who is really an angel who has lost his faith in the good of man, so Santa will bring them puppies for their good deed.
Review: I really liked this movie. It’s such a sweet story with a positive message. This would be great for families to watch and then discuss ways they can give to neighbors or the community. Religion isn’t a main theme of the movie or discussed often but the values are woven throughout. The one caveat is that they do discuss parents dying and visit a children’s hospital with very ill children and it may make the subject matter too much for the youngest children. If your children are young you may want to preview it.
Proper English Christmas (2013)
Synopsis: Come home for a proper English and learn all about what it takes to make this holiday so special in times past.
Review: If you’re interested in history, especially Victorian England, you’ll enjoy this. A family goes and lives on a Victorian farm and actually do everything the way it would be done back then. It’s a great reminder of how easy we have it today. If you don’t enjoy history or documentaries, skip it.
Puppy Star Christmas (2018)
Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Starring: David Deluise
Synopsis: A song-filled new Air Bud 'Pup Star' movie that introduces four new pups to the family, who stow away on Santa's sleigh and find themselves trapped at the North Pole, trying to save the world's Christmas spirit.
Review: The human characters are caricatures of people but that adds to the silliness and joy of the movie. I think children will love the talking dogs, the colorful sets and costumes, and the music while adults will find it a little cheesy but will still be able to enjoy it. Look for the dancing reindeer with leg warmers.