Underrated Christmas Movies for All!

A Christmas movie may include anything from Jesus Christ’s birth to the gruesome pressures of trying to please family members around the dinner table. It can involve the magic of time travel and flying reindeer, or the lack of magic when life is lonely. Either way, the Christmas movie absolutely has to involve these two things: It has to take place during Christmas, and it has to be re-seen at least ten times in a human life span.

(So, what I’m trying to say is Die Hard qualifies.)

Here are a few underrated Christmas movies specifically intended for THE FAMILY, THE KIDS, and ADULTS ONLY:

For THE FAMILY, I recommend About a Boy (2002), PG-13

You have your Scrooge: Will Freeman (Hugh Grant), a wealthy, self-absorbed hipster who passes himself as a single father to meet single moms in London. And, you have your Tiny Tim: Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), a lost boy bullied in school and overwhelmed by a dysfunctional single mom. No, the connection to the “Christmas Carol” setting isn’t exactly where I’m going with this, but if you’re looking for that good-old fashioned character transformation formula, this quasi Christmas dramedy pushes all the right buttons.

I revisit this small flick about once a year. I don’t know if I find Grant’s impeccable selfish to selfless conversion more captivating or the intangible bittersweetness of watching imperfect characters embracing each other to the music of Badly Drawn Boy. Somehow, what could have been a syrupy gag makes you cry tears of joy by the end. I think it’s because Grant does such a fine job playing a prick on the outside, and when Marcus and his mom (a fabulous – as per usual – Toni Collette) come into his life, all three of them organically melt into people we are and people we empathize.

Character chemistry, witty dialogue, and a killer of a soundtrack make this your go-to, feel-good Christmas flick.

For THE KIDS, there’s the forgotten Prancer (1989), PG

Christmas is all about nostalgia, right? Please don’t blame me for going down my own path into the past with this one. My dad and I saw Prancer in the theatre when it first came out, and, yes, we bought into the corny but enchanting story of a girl who heals an injured reindeer’s leg and comes to believe he is the official “Prancer” of Santa’s troupe. Even the audience is skeptical until good ole Sam Elliott, the apple farming father, starts to believe in the unbelievable as well. The heartwarming theme of faith and superior acting all around make Prancer my Christmas blast from the past.

For ADULTS ONLY, I recommend The Family Stone (2005), PG-13

Anti-Sarah Jessica Parker viewers (that’s me) and anti-Sex in the City viewers (that’s me, again) may be pleasantly surprised by this one. You see, not liking Parker and her character is the point of this movie. Parker’s character is the “newbie” fiancée to enter the eponymous Stone family during a Christmas reunion, but when mom (Diane Keaton) and sister-in-law (Rachel McAdams) sense a romantic mismatch, the feisty females attack, and awkwardly fun questions about each member’s intentions arise. Sentimental, scathingly funny, and full of realistic family redemption, The Family Stone is a go-to Christmas dramedy for the more mature peeps in the house.

Happy safe and movie-filled holidays, everyone!

Thank you for reading,

Reely Bernie

27 thoughts on “Underrated Christmas Movies for All!

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    1. It’s a good cast, and several of them would go further up the ranks in celebrity status afterwards. There’s a steady tempo to the family dysfunction that I guess I can awkwardly relate to 🙂 Thank you for your thoughts!

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        1. Haha! You know, what’s funny is I now understand the concept of moratorium – the same concept Disney would relentlessly pursue when not releasing classics on VHS in the 90s: The long break makes you long for the classics even more. It’s been a good 10 years since my last viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life. Can you believe that?! I love that movie, but I simply needed to take a break from it…

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          1. The Bond producers really have a strict moratorium too, which used to work wonders…there’s also a dark side to Wonderful Life, used to have to phone social services to help upset people out of the cinema…

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  1. Aww, while I’m not necessarily a big Sarah Jessica Parker fan, I did love ‘Sex & the City’, and have probably watched every episode at least three times! And her character in ‘Family Stone’ is rather sympathetic. Finally, I have never seen ‘About a Boy’, and really should remedy that.

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    1. Oh man! Your passion and knowledge for music will amp a level after you see (and hear) About a Boy. Badly Drawn Boy does the soundtrack and film score, and I find myself revisiting their soundtrack more often than the movie. It’s sentimental without being schmaltzy…

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  2. Oh my goodness, that’s really Hoult! I have not realized that! I do like that movie, Grant is his usual charming prick learning to be a decent human being in it. I haven’t seen the other two, though – might give them a chance 🙂

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  3. Hey Bern! All 4 movies mentioned in your article today are good movies, Christmas related or not. I remember going to see Prancer at a Theater with all of the cousins and our family. Justin, a couple years older than you bought the extra large Mountain Dew. Right near the beginning of Prancer, he knocked over his big drink and even though we were seated in the back, all the ice cubes and soda made it to the front row patrons as they all turned their angry faces back at us.
    Nevertheless, Prancer was a touching tender movie for. I cried a little at the end. Merry Christmas, Bern! Love, y o d

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    1. It’s solid, reliable, heartwarming escape. It’s hard to believe it came out 18 years ago! Thanks for reaching out. Doing well – quarantining safely. School goes back on campus next semester, so I’m preparing for that now in order to enjoy my Christmas break. How are you doing?

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      1. I’m glad to read you are well. All the best with school next Semester. Everything is good as it can be here buddy.
        I really get a kick out of Grant’s quirks in that movie and it’s really well adapted from the book. Toni Collete kills in it as well. A fantastic and highly original feel-good movie.

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        1. I need to read the book. I like all of Hornby’s movie adaptations 🙂 Glad you’re doing well too. Movies certainly help during times like these, especially the holidays 🙂

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          1. I read one of his, but I forgot the title. It was filled with antedotes about his infatuation with the English football team Arsenal. It didn’t do much for me. I really liked the movie High Fidelity. The Dylan and Springsteen references in that movie are superb.

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