5 Family-Friendly Holiday Movies You Might Have Missed

by | December 16, 2015 | Comments

While the holidays are certainly all about tradition – wearing the same sweaters, baking the same cookies, playing the same Andy Williams CD, washing your hands with the same fir-scented liquid soap – sometimes it makes Christmas better to throw a little something new into the rotation. As you spend time with the kids this month, or even just park them in front of a TV so you can get some decorating done, check out these family-friendly movies that might be new to you and/or the young’uns. (And for more seasonal film options, check out my book Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas.)

Arthur Christmas (2011) 92%


Released at the same time as the bigger-budgeted Hugo and Tintin, and saddled with both a terrible marketing campaign and a titular pun that doesn’t really work outside the UK, this import from Aardman fell between the cracks in its original Stateside release, although its cult among Yanks grows every December. Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy) is the son of the current Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent). Santa’s older son Steve (Hugh Laurie) has turned the gift-distribution functions of the North Pole into a ruthlessly well-oiled machine, but it’s Arthur who keeps the spirit of Christmas alive, especially when one final present needs to be delivered before the sun rises on December 25.

Lassie (2005) 93%


This is not the “What’s that? Timmy’s trapped in Dead Rock Canyon?” Lassie that you’ve gotten to know from the American TV series; this sweeping (and tear-jerking) British movie faithfully adapts the original novel by Eric Knight. Director Charles Sturridge (the Brideshead Revisited miniseries) assembles a powerhouse cast that places talented newcomers alongside vets like Peter O’Toole, Peter Dinklage and Samantha Morton. The brave collie makes her way across Scotland and England to be reunited with her impoverished young master – but will she come home in time for Christmas?

Millions (2004) 88%


With a filmography that ranges from Steve Jobs to Trainspotting to Slumdog Millionaire, director Danny Boyle generally defies categorization, although you might not necessarily apply “kid-friendly” to his work – unless you’ve seen this delightful 2004 comedy. Young Damian (Alex Etel) is reeling from the recent death of his mother when a satchel of money falls down from heaven (actually, a passing train). With the clock ticking toward the New Year, when the UK will convert from pounds to Euros – this is a fantasy, after all – Damian has to figure out what to do with the money while staying a step ahead of the gangsters who want it back.

Prancer (1989) 67%


The British don’t have a monopoly on the genre; this made-in-the-USA tale introduces us to Christmas-obsessed Jessica (Rebecca Harrell), who’s convinced that the ailing reindeer she’s nursing back to health is actually Prancer, who has somehow gotten separated from his brethren at the North Pole. With an ensemble that includes Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman and Abe Vigoda, this disarming movie captures the magic and the power of childhood belief without ever overstating its case or getting too precious about it. And even adults might want to keep a hanky on hand.

Unaccompanied Minors (2006) 29%


After Freaks and Geeks and before Bridesmaids, director Paul Feig crafted this energetic and clever farce about a group of kids stuck at a snowed-in airport on Christmas Eve. While it’s been unfairly lumped in with other post–Home Alone comedies about kids outsmarting adults, this one’s actually based on a story from All Things Considered, and Feig once again casts some amazing young actors (including Tyler James Williams of Everybody Hates Chris and Dear White People) alongside an army of comic greats, including Mindy Kaling, Jessica Walter, Lewis Black, Teri Garr, Rob Corddry and three of the Kids in the Hall, to name just a few.

Alonso Duralde is the author of the quintessential holiday film guide Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas. Follow him on Twitter at @ADuralde.

Tag Cloud

true crime Apple Image Comics USA Network Rocketman Tarantino cinemax Spring TV cancelled serial killer rt labs hollywood Mystery video TLC Musicals Pet Sematary Sneak Peek reboot trophy DGA Disney Channel YouTube football a nightmare on elm street Hallmark 90s 2015 Freeform political drama Horror 1990s elevated horror Captain marvel Heroines PBS Pop TV Television Critics Association marvel comics VICE golden globes Summer American Society of Cinematographers Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 2017 all-time AMC superman Amazon what to watch Disney+ Disney Plus comics new zealand Hear Us Out canceled Super Bowl Countdown Chilling Adventures of Sabrina science fiction Logo romantic comedy crime Universal Pictures romance Crunchyroll Amazon Prime DC Comics The Walking Dead best boxing Mary Poppins Returns die hard Family Vudu Hollywood Foreign Press Association Disney slasher kaiju jamie lee curtis boxoffice game of thrones GoT satire debate LGBT APB VH1 documentary Biopics 24 frames 20th Century Fox comiccon thriller comic foreign Prime Video Paramount blockbuster Grammys CBS Sundance TV Black History Month Disney Plus teaser spider-verse golden globe awards The Academy X-Men DirecTV scary movies Winter TV finale Fantasy Pop kids jurassic park Rock art house animated Superheroe venice Alien canceled TV shows halloween tv lord of the rings NYCC asian-american dc Country rt labs critics edition nbcuniversal Musical hispanic Nat Geo godzilla streaming trailers cats Writers Guild of America Syfy CMT fresh El Rey sequel HFPA Pixar SXSW Podcast stand-up comedy 2020 Mary Tyler Moore Marathons VOD PlayStation TV renewals BET Awards Marvel Studios book E3 target The Purge indiana jones worst Fox News Peacock Calendar Lucasfilm Awards Tour deadpool HBO Go Sci-Fi Ellie Kemper historical drama The Walt Disney Company Teen Superheroes Adult Swim classics OWN Funimation ViacomCBS live action Stephen King IFC prank Holiday gangster spanish New York Comic Con Black Mirror BBC One Emmys Epix Animation miniseries slashers robots Cannes BBC spider-man disaster IFC Films FX on Hulu Classic Film 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards blockbusters ABC 71st Emmy Awards dark children's TV Tumblr AMC Plus Spectrum Originals remakes toy story Sony Pictures cults Winners Television Academy Opinion Holidays mutant franchise Year in Review Star Wars sports Warner Bros. popular Paramount Network Pacific Islander scene in color DC Universe Oscars facebook doctor who suspense Reality Competition Comic Book TV mob NBA dceu Netflix RT History adenture TV movies Universal TBS YouTube Red WarnerMedia Reality San Diego Comic-Con 73rd Emmy Awards psycho renewed TV shows mission: impossible Election marvel cinematic universe aapi hidden camera BAFTA emmy awards king arthur vampires sopranos dragons Nominations ITV period drama 2019 YouTube Premium CW Seed Apple TV+ women Film Trophy Talk Toys new york Chernobyl Infographic NBC dreamworks heist movie basketball MTV name the review Hallmark Christmas movies ABC Signature wonder woman Red Carpet Walt Disney Pictures adventure 79th Golden Globes Awards festivals Ovation E! hispanic heritage month Mary poppins Hulu posters FXX Comedy Central crime drama criterion pirates of the caribbean Discovery Channel rotten crime thriller Lifetime Christmas movies Amazon Studios green book 93rd Oscars Interview international toronto comic books indie Marvel Television Netflix Christmas movies spanish language Kids & Family Lifetime police drama child's play Paramount Plus Trailer anthology docudrama Emmy Nominations medical drama black comedy Martial Arts GIFs independent Mindy Kaling talk show nfl richard e. Grant Instagram Live batman BBC America Endgame Box Office ABC Family Cosplay Fall TV Certified Fresh ratings australia parents TCA Awards Fargo Turner Classic Movies social media kong singing competition breaking bad obituary History Neflix TIFF Crackle A24 comic book movie cartoon TruTV dogs 2016 streaming movies feel good stoner Polls and Games Mudbound Tokyo Olympics french game show Awards GLAAD worst movies aliens genre Cartoon Network cooking ESPN Premiere Dates spinoff MCU scary cancelled television Creative Arts Emmys superhero festival unscripted Trivia television 45 TNT mcc 4/20 video on demand Comics on TV binge TCA Apple TV Plus Arrowverse CNN olympics new star wars movies The Witch japanese Elton John revenge cancelled TV series composers 21st Century Fox Western A&E directors TCA Winter 2020 theme song Marvel Photos Acorn TV zero dark thirty Food Network PaleyFest comedies The CW HBO Max Masterpiece know your critic Christmas Watching Series Set visit action-comedy Rocky documentaries sitcom Comic-Con@Home 2021 Baby Yoda cars WGN films DC streaming service biography joker sag awards Character Guide First Reviews Travel Channel Music BET tv talk royal family Pride Month 007 based on movie Starz razzies TV One supernatural crossover movie nature TCM IMDb TV zombie 99% black war Academy Awards Legendary Women's History Month award winner See It Skip It king kong south america ID strong female leads spain Columbia Pictures critics adaptation live event ghosts 72 Emmy Awards psychological thriller Action Fox Searchlight stop motion news dexter monster movies chucky Sundance Now universal monsters 2021 fast and furious scorecard legend vs. USA OneApp Video Games latino dramedy saw Film Festival Extras leaderboard transformers book adaptation MSNBC reviews Shudder Quiz Tags: Comedy First Look YA Valentine's Day rom-coms sequels screenings Wes Anderson halloween Tomatazos critic resources cancelled TV shows travel Best and Worst RT21 Tubi Showtime FOX National Geographic Spike Lionsgate spy thriller Esquire Schedule Turner free movies Bravo series rt archives versus diversity telelvision Sundance biopic President space young adult christmas movies Britbox Binge Guide screen actors guild japan Dark Horse Comics TV Land movies witnail technology 2018 Broadway werewolf Amazon Prime Video Nickelodeon HBO Exclusive Video zombies TCA 2017 Drama james bond twilight archives Disney streaming service concert justice league Rom-Com quibi anime rotten movies we love politics docuseries harry potter high school SundanceTV FX Anna Paquin discovery Ghostbusters Comedy Brie Larson blaxploitation natural history Avengers comic book movies SDCC Star Trek Shondaland italian casting mockumentary CBS All Access The Arrangement laika hist Pirates cops Thanksgiving LGBTQ Song of Ice and Fire