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.
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.
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, Comedy, Fantasy, Musical
Starring: Alan King
Synopsis: It's Pinocchio's first Christmas, and he sells the book Geppetto gives him for present money, but Cat and Fox trick him out of it.
Review: Pinocchio hasn’t changed. For children who have seen the Disney movie this will be familiar. Pinocchio is disobedient, trusts the wrong people, and finds himself in messes, despite being well meaning. It’s visually beautiful and I think families will enjoy it.
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.
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.
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.