It’s Day Four of RT’s Five Days of Christmas Countdown, where we serve up a different list each day of the best holiday flicks around. Today, we’ve got something for kids and families — all the Whos down in Whoville, the king of Halloweentown, and the most famous reindeer of all.
The holidays are here, and it’s time to break out the sleds, roast the chestnuts, and watch a movie or five about yuletide magic (or a decided lack thereof). And when in doubt regarding your best viewing for any occasion, as always, we’re here to help; the merry elves at Rotten Tomatoes have listed the Tomatometers, checked them twice, and will be presenting, during the Five Days of Christmas, the best-reviewed holiday films in the following categories: Classics, Comedies, Animated/Children’s, Dramas, and Thrillers. Pour yourself a cup of eggnog and get ready for some fine seasonal viewing!
Top Five Yuletide Animated/Kids Films
Admit it, parents — kids’ movies can be painfully, painfully bad, and kids’ Christmas movies tend to be some of the worst. When faced with choosing between giving your children up for adoption or suffering through Macaulay Culkin‘s "Nutcracker" one more time…well, let’s just say life is full of difficult decisions and leave it at that. Thankfully, we’re here to help — here are five holiday movies for the kids, all Certified Fresh, maybe even including one or two you haven’t seen 10,000 times already!
5) Tokyo Godfathers (2004) 89%
What do an alcoholic bum, a homeless transvestite, and a violent runaway have in common? They’re the stars of this holiday-themed anime feature, in which even the most broken-down, ragtag group of outcasts can find redemption in unlikely and unexpected places. (Hint: there are strong parallels to not only the Old Testament, but the 1948 western classic "3 Godfathers.") If anime for Christmas strikes you as a little odd, well, it is — but you don’t really need to watch "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" again, do you?
Directed by: Satoshi Kon
3) [tie] Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) 90%
A classic example of early stop-motion animation (and, with the 2001 CGI-animated sequel, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys," an example of why technology can’t improve everything), CBS’ 1964 holiday offering is TV’s longest-running special for a reason. Several reasons, actually — whether it’s Burl Ives‘ narration, the story’s message of acceptance, or the animation alone, it’s impossible to argue with this "Rudolph"’s charm.
Starring: Burl Ives, Billie Mae Richards
Directed by: Kizo Nagashima, Larry Roemer
3) [tie] A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) 90%
Before the Peanuts gang exhausted every major holiday, there was "A Charlie Brown Christmas," still one of the loveliest, most honest examples of animated joy to the world. From the flawless soundtrack to the poignant reminders of what truly constitutes Christmas spirit, Charles Schulz‘s creations have never looked better on our screens. Now if we could just do something about "It’s Secretaries’ Day, Charlie Brown"…
Starring: Peter Robbins, Tracy Stratford
Directed by: Bill Melendez
2) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) 97%
Given producer Tim Burton‘s career penchant for unmistakably stylish visuals, it was perhaps only a matter of time before he made the leap into animation, and with "The Nightmare Before Christmas," he did so in signature Burton style. Jack Skellington and his motley crew know how to run the ghoulish festivities of Halloweentown, but when they try to take over Christmas, all heck breaks loose. It isn’t for everyone, of course, but if you’ve got the goth kids coming over for some figgy pudding, there’s no better choice.
Starring: Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara
Directed by: Henry Selick
1) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) 100%
There is a generation of children whose first exposure to a moving, talking Grinch came courtesy of the Jim Carrey/Ron Howard live-action "update" of the classic Dr. Seuss story, but unquestionably, the definitive "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" film remains Chuck Jones’ animated classic. It celebrates its 40th birthday this Christmas, so if you really needed an excuse to see it again, now you’ve got one.
Starring: Thurl Ravenscroft, June Foray, Boris Karloff
Directed by: Chuck Jones
Click here for Day Three: Top Five Holiday Thrillers
Click here for Day Two: Top Five Seasonal Dramas
Click here for Day One: Top Five Yuletide Comedies
And check back tomorrow for the final installment of the countdown: RT’s Top Five Christmas Classics!