I wrote a list of Christmas movies before; this is the second volume. These are more films to add to the Christmas time video playlist when all the other films become repetitive. Here are some Christmas classics and underground cult hits.
Ernest Saves Christmas (1992)
This is a part of the multiple Ernest P. World movie series created after the commercial character for various products in the 1980s. This Christmas movie has Ernest help Santa to find a successor or Christmas will not exist.
The Little Match Girl (1986)
Like Little Women, The Little Match Girl was made into multiple film, tv and animated adaptations and on occasion video games. But this is mostly of reference to the Roger Daltrey and Twiggy version from the 1980s. This version I found partly good. This was a TV movie of a recorded stage performance of the play. The story is very sad and depressing but a good story about remaining hopeful to the end. On New Year’s Eve, a poor, barefoot girl young girl tries to sells matches in the cold and afraid to go home because her father hits her. She huddles between two houses lighting matches to keep her warm and envisioning comforting images of a warm stove, a holiday feast, a happy family and a Merry Christmas. The story was written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1845. It’s a Christmas classic that people should at least watch once.
This movie has three different stories that interconnect with each other around Christmas time. The first story is about a desperate woman dealing “drugs” for a lot of cash to avoid homelessness on Christmas day. The second story is about four friends in Las Vegas being chased down by the mob. The third story is about a gay couple who work on a cop show are coerced into an undercover sting operation only to invite to a Christmas dinner/swinger hookup. This movie is completely too 90’s in style, excessive drug use, drug talk and fashion. It’s not a conventional Christmas movie but has a backdrop of holiday shoppers at night.
Finding Mrs. Claus (2012)
Santa Claus travels to Las Vegas when his wife, Mrs. Claus, goes there to help a little girl and her mother after receiving a letter addressed to her about the little girl’s mother feeling lonely at Christmas and wanting her the have some luck in love. It has Mira Sorvino and Will Sasso in old-age makeup to look like Mr. and Mrs. Claus in a distance marriage with a workaholic husband and a lonely housewife. An elf uses Christmas dust to disguise Mrs. Claus turning her from old Mrs. Claus to Mira Sorvino. It’s funnier than expected in a pre-Hallmark Movies like feel.
The Knight Before Christmas (2019)
This is a saccharine mediocre Christmas movie that takes place in Bracebridge, Ohio even though it was filmed in Bracebridge, Ontario and Tullamore, Ireland. A knight must prove his abilities as a knight with a cryptic quest from a strange witch in the winter woods of Norfolk, England. He time travels and teleports to the modern day to cozy up with a lovelorn high school teacher. It’s a movie that’s similar to the French film Les Visiteurs but with a Christmas theme.
Holiday in Handcuffs (2007)
I watched this film once on W network around Christmas time a few years ago and it is super wacky. A stressed-out waitress fights with her uptight boyfriend who leaves her before her Christmas trip to visit her parents. She kidnaps the first patron she sees at the restaurant she works at, handcuffs him and drives him to her parent’s cabin pleading with him to act as her boyfriend for the full week. He is redressed in bland golfing clothes and plays along while waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up while she waits for the cops to accompany her. It’s weird and a very cheesy romantic comedy that’s a little psycho.
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (2000)
The story is based on the Christmas classic song of the same title. The animation is very similar to everything from that decade. An elderly woman is hit by a reindeer around Christmastime getting a concussion and temporary memory loss. Then she disappears. The two grandchildren are there at the scene. The oldest one is a self-centred greedy snob. The younger one is hopeful and genuinely cares about his grandmother. The eldest grandchild is suing Santa Claus for an infinite amount of money for the injuries. The younger grandchild is investigating what happened to his grandma. The movie is corny with saccharine plot points.
Eight Crazy Nights (2002)
This is actually a good Adam Sandler movie. Davey Stone, a bitchy holiday schlub who’s constantly drunk and a grouch throughout Hanukkah is stuck hanging out with his old uncle due to his probation and community service over the holidays to amend bad habits. It’s a well-animated movie with okay voice acting. The voice of his elderly uncle, Whitey, is obviously Sandler’s trademark man-child voice used in various movies and SNL sketches. The animation looks like it’s post-Don Bluth style. There are singing, dancing and a narrator. It has sentiment without being too sugary sweet.
O. Henry’s Full House (1952)
An anthology Christmas film of five stories from O. Henry, a short story writer from the late 19th century and early 20th century. The narrator is John Steinbeck in his only on-screen appearance. A lot of these stories were retold in sitcoms and movies throughout the years after publishing. Therefore, the stories have this familiar sound to them. The five stories are: The Cop and the Anthem about homelessness at wintertime The Clarion Call a conflicted detective in financial debt to a criminal until a newspaper publishes an award for arrest The Last Leaf about the Greenwich village pneumonia epidemic The Ransom of Red Chief about a kidnapping that gets out of hand The Gift of the Magi about a married couple buying each other gifts but both have no money.
The Christmas Prince (2017)
A Netflix original film of a gossip blogger travelling to a small monarchy ruled country to get the inside scoop of the state of the country possibly to enter the war if a treaty wasn’t signed and the future of the throne from the flighty yet handsome prince. This romantic comedy takes place around Christmas time.
Peace on Earth (1939)
A Christmas short that preaches an anti-war message coming from squirrels. A beautifully dark and charmingly Christmas-sy 15-minute short animation made around World War Two. The message of the short is if you enter the war it’s your extinction.
An offbeat story of Santa Claus as a midwest rugged hard-working American building toys at his farm with his elf workers in the wilderness. A spoiled psychopathic brat who has more money than common decency for his fellow man hires his on-call contract hitman to kill Santa. What did Santa do? He gave him a lump of coal for Christmas for being a bad kid. The film is a dark comedy with scenes that are funny but not laugh out loud funny. The film is more violent than expected and has more satire about the middle-class business owner, too.
All American Christmas Carol (2013)
This film is a retelling of Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol but with a different type of grinch. The comedy is offbeat, a little crude and another modern update to an old story. Cindy, an unemployed, hard-partying neglectful mother decides to ditch her kids at their Christmas pageant recital to party through the Christmas break into the new year. This action leaves her shut out from her family. She was visited by three ghosts that represent the past, present and future from beings of her own life.
Last Christmas (2019)
A woman who works year-round has a Christmas elf in a Christmas-themed store is a clumsy woman who goes through one-night stands, heavily drinks, uses her friends to sleep on their couch and was throwing her family away. She was hitting rock bottom in her life. After some bad auditions to feature her music, she meets a guy outside of her store who shows her some kindness and a second chance.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
A musical with a colourful Victorian backdrop about an inventor hitting rock bottom after feeling like he ran out of ideas, his wife who died and his prize invention stolen by an apprentice. His granddaughter visits from the other side of town. They start inventing toys that catch the eye of his thieving yet successful apprentice. The cast is diverse. It’s narrated by Phylicia Rashad reading a story to her grandchildren about this Christmas tale. It also has delightful 3D animation of anthropomorphic dolls either helping the narration of the story and humanoid dolls that talk.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
This is the muppet version of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol with Michael Caine. It’s cute, sentimental and has the muppets in Victorian clothing with funny names. It’s a musical comedy. It was one of the first muppet films to use CGI to hide the puppeteers. The set was designed in various angles to incorporate the human and muppets in multiple scenes. The muppets are still sarcastic and were the first film made after Jim Henson’s death.
Love Actually (2003)
This ensemble film based around Christmas time started a short trend of having A list actors to star in romantic holiday vintages. Ten storylines about Londoners find and explore romance during the Christmas season.
Santa Claus vs. The Devil (1959)
The other title to this not-so-well-known film is Santa Claus. It’s a film that feels out of date from the 1950s. Almost the kind of film you would find on a late-night channel that shows cult classics, old short films from the ’50s to 80’s and obscure films. The film takes place on Christmas Eve when Santa Claus is preparing to deliver toys from his Toyland castle in space. Santa and some kids find a firecracker in the shape of a devil. Santa lits it up that releases a little devil Pitch to Earth. Pitch plans to turn the children of Earth evil and against Santa Claus. Unable to travel to Earth until nightfall on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus can only watch from a far Pitch trying to convince children to be bad children before Christmas. Pitch tries to tempt the children to commit theft and vandalism at a retail shop. With the aid of a powerful telescope to see what is happening on Earth, Santa can look inside someone’s dream and with Merlin the wizard help defeat Pitch from turning the kids evil. The film takes place in Mexico City and filmed in Mexico. It’s considered a Christmas cult classic but forgotten just spoofed on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in the ’90s.
This comic book adaptation is a Christmas movie because it’s based around Christmas and the theme of the film has a common theme in Christmas film – family togetherness, love and being caring. This film is about a boy who just moved in lives in a foster family. He meets a wizard at a bus station who grants him the powers of Shazam.
Last Holiday (2006)
A soft-spoken timid department store assistant gets a terrible diagnosis that she has a terminal illness and might die within a few weeks. After getting the terrible news, she uses all of her life savings to live large at a European ski resort on her last holiday vacation. The film is a romantic comedy and was supposed to be made in 1994 with John Candy starring in the lead role. This is a great film for foodies around Christmastime with savoury recipes that would be interesting to try out.
A Carol for Another Christmas (1964)
This was Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s only TV movie he ever directed. This film is a modernized take on Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol about an industrialist father mourning his son’s death in WW2 holds animosity against people different from him. He is visited by three ghosts teaching him the importance of international peacekeeping. This film was made as a testament towards global cooperation written by Rod Sterling of The Twilight Zone. This film is hard to come by on television and it is easier to buy a copy of it on Amazon to keep for yourself.
Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
This film is the origin story of Santa Claus from the 14 century to the 20th century. The film has the origins of Santa Claus, the magic, the flying reindeer and an inventive elf who gets conned by an unscrupulous toymaker over lollipops. The film is mostly about the inventive elf that created a toy machine that made shoddy products without his knowledge that prompted him to quit his post at the North Pole and move to New York City. After the elf sees a popular window display of toys, he decides to help a businessman toymaker develop more toys. The film is dumb but is a cult classic as a Christmas movie.
Remember the Night (1940)
A New York District Attorney pities a shoplifter near Christmas time and lets her out on bail. After a revival attorney drops off the shoplifter at his apartment they learn that they are both from Indiana. They carpool together to the state for Christmas running into on-the-road antics along the way. It’s a romantic comedy with a charming story.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
A cable network tradition to air the half-hour Christmas special of the Peanuts gang. The animated television special has Charlie Brown depressed around Christmas. Lucy suggests that Charlie should direct the Christmas play. He gets mocked by his peers about the play. Especially after getting a small sampling Christmas tree for the play. Linus tells Charlie the true meaning of Christmas which cheers him up. Charlie realizes that commercialism shouldn’t ruin Christmas decorates his tree that goes limp after hanging a large red Christmas ornament. This infuriates Charlie who rejects it after he thought he killed it. The Peanuts gang realizes they might have been too hard on Charlie and decide to support Charlie’s choice and his tree with care and love. Strangely enough, the animation was completed in ten days which had some genuine Charlie Brown-like reactions to the quality of the animation from the director Bill Melendez unlike Ed Levitt, one of the animators of the short, said it was the greatest special ever made.
The Snowman (1982)
This short film was narrated by three times by Raymond Briggs (the author), David Bowie and Mel Smith. This animated short was based on the illustrated children’s story of the same name. It has a very distinctive animation style that looks similar to colour pencils. After a heavy snowfall, James builds a large snowman. When the clock hit midnight, the snowman came to life wondered inside his house playing with appliances and toys. James plays with the snowman all night going on voyages across the Royal Pavillion and Brighton Palace Pier. They even meet Santa Claus at the North Pole. On Christmas Day, James wakes up to find the snowman has melted. The snowman leaves behind his eyes, nose, hat, scarf and coal buttons. The short ends with James mourning the loss of his snowman.
Christmas, Again (2015)
Noel, a heartbroken depressed Christmas tree salesman who lives in a trailer for his seasonal job returns to New York hoping to put his past behind him. Some Christmas customers rescue him from self-destruction. Based on what RogerEbert.com says, it’s a film that mostly focuses on mood and atmosphere keeping the audience in a dreamlike state in this salesman life. There’s no clear plot but it is a great performance piece for the holiday season.
The featured film, Little Women, was adapted into a motion picture film seven times. It was first adapted into a film in 1917 and 1918 as silent films, first sound production in 1933, first full colour version in 1949, the 1994 Victorian-styled film adaption, the contemporary 2018 film and the recent film from 2019 that was nominated for six Oscars including best picture. It’s a coming-of-age story based in the Victorian era about four sisters and their journey from childhood to womanhood. The book was written by Louise May Alcott and was a critical and commercial success when it was first printed. There were two spin-off novels from the massive interest of the characters from Little Women called Little Men and Jo’s Boys. These films are great to watch around Christmas time but there are stage, television, musical, opera and radio productions too.