Holiday Family Movies

There’s no better way to hide out from the cold than by cozying up to a holiday movie (Rotten Tomatoes).

Holiday time is a great time for reflection and appreciation, and the holiday movies listed below is a way to take it easy and reflect on the good old days for the grown ups and a new beginnings for the young. The movies pick ranges from Ebenezer Scrooge’s redemption in the adaptations of Christmas Carol  to the salvation of George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. There is no better way to put yourself in the holiday spirit than with a classic holiday movie. Get the popcorn and drinks ready and relax to any or all of this classic holiday movies.

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Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The classic Disney animated characters play the roles in this animated retelling of the Charles Dickens masterpiece. Ebenezer Scrooge. Nominated for an Oscar.
Starring: Wayne Allwine, Alan Young, Will Ryan
Directed By: Burny Mattinson
Rating: G
Genre: Animation, Kids & Family
Directed By: Burny Mattinson
In Theaters: Oct 23, 1983 wide
On Disc/Streaming: Nov 5, 2013
Runtime: 25 minutes
  How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1967)
Critics Consensus: How the Grinch Stole Christmas brings an impressive array of talent to bear on an adaptation that honors a classic holiday story — and has rightfully become a yuletide tradition of its own.
Synopsis: Chuck Jones’ animated version of the classic Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas originally aired on television in 1966 and has since become a holiday family favorite. Voiced by Boris Karloff (who also narrates), the Grinch lives on top of a hill overlooking Whoville with his dog, Max. Each year at Christmas time, the Grinch’s hatred grows stronger toward those insufferably cheerful Whos down in Whoville. Content to exchange presents, eat large banquets, and sing songs in the town square, the Whos live in a blissful ignorance of the Grinch’s contempt. One year, he gets the idea to stop Christmas from coming by dressing up as Santa Claus. He cobbles together an outfit and makes his dog drag him around on a sleigh while sneaking into the Whos’ homes and stealing their presents, food, and decorations. After he has stolen every last thing, the Whos wake up on Christmas morning to sing in the town square, causing the Grinch to question the basis of his nefarious plan. Thurl Ravenscroft (the voice of kid cereal mascot Tony the Tiger) provides the vocals for the song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” This story was remade into a live-action movie in 2000 by director Ron Howard starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi
Starring: Boris Karloff, June Foray, Thurl Ravenscroft, Eugene Poddany
Directed By: Chuck Jones, Ben Washam
Rating: NR
Genre: Animation, Classics, Comedy, Kids & Family, Musical & Performing Arts, Television
Written By: Theodor S. Geisel
In Theaters: Jun 1, 1967 wide
On Disc/Streaming: Oct 31, 2000
Runtime: 26 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
  Holiday Inn (1942)
Critics Consensus: With the combined might of Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Irving Berlin working in its favor, Holiday Inn is a seasonal classic — not least because it introduced “White Christmas” to the world.
Synopsis: Music by Irving Berlin, songs by Bing Crosby and dancing by Fred Astaire all add up to a really delightful musical that also just happened to launch the hit ‘White Christmas’.
Starring: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale
Directed By: Mark Sandrich
Rating: NR
Genre: Classics, Comedy, Musical & Performing Arts, Romance
Written By: Claude Binyon, Elmer Rice
In Theaters: Jan 1, 1942 wide
On Disc/Streaming: Nov 2, 1999
Runtime: 100 minutes
Studio: MCA Universal Home Video
  Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Sally Benson’s short stories about the turn-of-the-century Smith family of St. Louis were tackled by a battalion of MGM screenwriters, who hoped to find a throughline to connect the anecdotal tales. After several false starts (one of which proposed that the eldest Smith daughter be kidnapped and held for ransom), the result was the charming valentine-card musical Meet Me in St. Louis. The plot hinges on the possibility that Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames), the family’s banker father, might uproot the Smiths to New York, scuttling his daughter Esther (Judy Garland)’s romance with boy-next-door John Truett (Tom Drake) and causing similar emotional trauma for the rest of the household. In a cast that includes Mary Astor as Ames’ wife, Lucille Bremer as another Ames daughter, and Marjorie Main as the housekeeper, the most fascinating character is played by 6-year-old Margaret O’Brien. As kid sister Tootie, O’Brien seems morbidly obsessed with death and murder, burying her dolls, “killing” a neighbor at Halloween (she throws flour in the flustered man’s face on a dare), and maniacally bludgeoning her snowmen when Papa announces his plans to move to New York. Margaret O’Brien won a special Oscar for her remarkable performance, prompting Lionel Barrymore to grumble “Two hundred years ago, she would have been burned at the stake!” The songs are a heady combination of period tunes and newly minted numbers by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin, the best of which are The Boy Next Door, The Trolley Song, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. As a bonus, Meet Me in St. Louis is lensed in rich Technicolor, shown to best advantage in the climactic scenes at the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Starring: Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Lucille Bremer, Mary Astor
Directed By: Vincente Minnelli
Rating: G
Genre: Classics, Drama, Kids & Family, Musical & Performing Arts, Romance
Written By: Irving Brecher, Fred F. Finklehoffe
In Theaters: Nov 28, 1944 limited
On Disc/Streaming: Apr 6, 2004
Runtime: 113 minutes
Studio: MGM
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Critics Consensus: Deftly directed by Ernst Lubitsch from a smart, funny script by Samson Raphaelson, The Shop Around the Corner is a romantic comedy in the finest sense of the term.
Synopsis: The Shop Around the Corner is adapted from the Hungarian play by Nikolaus (Miklos) Laszlo. Budapest gift-shop clerk Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and newly hired shopgirl Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) hate each other almost at first sight. Kralik would prefer the company of the woman with whom he is corresponding by mail but has never met. Novak likewise carries a torch for her male pen pal, whom she also has never laid eyes on. It doesn’t take a PhD degree to figure out that Kralik and Novak have been writing letters to each other. The film’s many subplots are carried by Frank Morgan as the kindhearted shopkeeper and by Joseph Schildkraut as a backstabbing employee whose comeuppance is sure to result in spontaneous applause from the audience. Directed with comic delicacy by Ernst Lubitsch, this was later remade in 1949 as In the Good Old Summertime, and in 1998 as You’ve Got Mail. It was also musicalized as the 1963 Broadway production She Loves Me. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Starring: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut
Directed By: Ernst Lubitsch
Rating: NR
Genre: Classics, Comedy, Drama, Romance
Written By: Samson Raphaelson
In Theaters: Jan 1, 1940 limited
On Disc/Streaming: Oct 1, 2002
Runtime: 97 minutes
Studio: MGM
Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014)
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: During a post-Christmas play date, the gang find themselves in uncharted territory when the coolest set of action figures ever turn out to be dangerously delusional. It’s all up to Trixie, the triceratops, if the gang hopes to return to Bonnie’s room in this Toy Story That Time Forgot. (C) Disney
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Kristen Schaal, Kevin Mckidd
Directed By: Steve Purcell (II)
Rating: NR
Genre: Action & Adventure, Animation
Written By: Steve Purcell (II)
In Theaters: Dec 2, 2014 wide
On Disc/Streaming: Nov 3, 2015
Runtime: 22 minutes
Studio: Disney/Pixar
 A Christmas Carol (1938)
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: One of the better versions of the Dickens classic features Reginald Owen as Scrooge, real-life relatives Gene, Kathleen and June Lockhart as the Cratchit family, and Terence Kilburn as Tiny Tim.
Starring: Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart, Leo G Carroll
Directed By: Edwin L. Marin
Rating: G (nothing objectionable)
Genre: Classics, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Written By: Hugo Butler
In Theaters: Dec 16, 1938 wide
On Disc/Streaming: Nov 8, 2005
Runtime: 99 minutes
Studio: MGM
Paddington (2015)
Critics Consensus: Paddington brings a beloved children’s character into the 21st century without sacrificing his essential charm, delivering a family-friendly adventure as irresistibly cuddly as its star.
Synopsis: From the beloved novels by Michael Bond and producer David Heyman (HARRY POTTER), PADDINGTON tells the story of the comic misadventures of a young Peruvian bear who travels to the city in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone, he begins to realize that city life is not all he had imagined – until he meets the kindly Brown family who read the label around his neck that says “Please look after this bear. Thank you,” and offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist. (c) Weinstein
Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Ben Whishaw, Julie Walters
Directed By: Paul King (VII)
Rating: PG (for mild action and rude humor)
Genre: Comedy, Kids & Family
Written By: Hamish McColl, Paul King (VII)
In Theaters: Jan 16, 2015 wide
On Disc/Streaming: Apr 28, 2015
Box Office: $85,879,985
Runtime: 96 minutes
Studio: The Weinstein Company
 Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Critics Consensus: Irrefutable proof that gentle sentimentalism can be the chief ingredient in a wonderful film, Miracle on 34th Street delivers a warm holiday message without resorting to treacle.
Synopsis: Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, a bearded old gent who is the living image of Santa Claus. Serving as a last-minute replacement for the drunken Santa who was to have led Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Kringle is offered a job as a Macy’s toy-department Santa. Supervisor Maureen O’Hara soon begins having second thoughts about hiring Kris: it’s bad enough that he is laboring under the delusion that he’s the genuine Saint Nick; but when he begins advising customers to shop elsewhere for toys that they can’t find at Macy’s, he’s gone too far! Amazingly, Mr. Macy (Harry Antrim) considers Kris’ shopping tips to be an excellent customer-service “gimmick,” and insists that the old fellow keep his job. A resident of a Long Island retirement home, Kris agrees to take a room with lawyer John Payne during the Christmas season. It happens that Payne is sweet on O’Hara, and Kris subliminally hopes he can bring the two together. Kris is also desirous of winning over the divorced O’Hara’s little daughter Natalie Wood, who in her few years on earth has lost a lot of the Christmas spirit. Complications ensue when Porter Hall, Macy’s nasty in-house psychologist, arranges to have Kris locked up in Bellevue as a lunatic. Payne represents Kris at his sanity hearing, rocking the New York judicial system to its foundations by endeavoring to prove in court that Kris is, indeed, the real Santa Claus! We won’t tell you how he does it: suffice to say that there’s a joyous ending for Payne and O’Hara, as well as a wonderful faith-affirming denouement for little Natalie Wood. 72-year-old Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his portrayal of the “jolly old elf” Kringle; the rest of the cast is populated by such never-fail pros as Gene Lockhart (as the beleaguered sanity-hearing judge), William Frawley (as a crafty political boss), and an unbilled Thelma Ritter and Jack Albertson. Based on the novel by Valentine Davies, Miracle on 34th Street was remade twice: once for TV in 1973, and a second time for a 1994 theatrical release, with Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Starring: Edmund Gwenn, John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood
Directed By: George Seaton
Rating: NR
Genre: Classics, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Special Interest, Romance
Written By: George Seaton
In Theaters: Jan 1, 1947 wide
On Disc/Streaming: Oct 16, 2001
Runtime: 96 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
  Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Critics Consensus: Enchanting, sweepingly romantic, and featuring plenty of wonderful musical numbers, Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney’s most elegant animated offerings.
Synopsis: Walt Disney Animation Studios’ magical classic Beauty and the Beast returns to the big screen in Disney Digital 3D(TM), introducing a whole new generation to the Disney classic with stunning new 3D imagery. The film captures the fantastic journey of Belle (voice of Paige O’Hara), a bright and beautiful young woman who’s taken prisoner by a hideous beast (voice of Robby Benson) in his castle. Despite her precarious situation, Belle befriends the castle’s enchanted staff-a teapot, a candelabra and a mantel clock, among others-and ultimately learns to see beneath the Beast’s exterior to discover the heart and soul of a prince. — (C) Disney
Starring: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Jerry Orbach, Angela Lansbury
Directed By: Gary Trousdale
Rating: G
Genre: Animation, Drama, Kids & Family, Musical & Performing Arts, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Romance
In Theaters: Nov 22, 1991 wide
On Disc/Streaming: Oct 8, 2002
Box Office: $47,611,331
Runtime: 85 minutes
Studio: Buena Vista
   It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Critics Consensus: The holiday classic to define all holiday classics, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of a handful of films worth an annual viewing.
Synopsis: This is director Frank Capra’s classic bittersweet comedy/drama about George Bailey (James Stewart), the eternally-in-debt guiding force of a bank in the typical American small town of Bedford Falls. As the film opens, it’s Christmas Eve, 1946, and George, who has long considered himself a failure, faces financial ruin and arrest and is seriously contemplating suicide. High above Bedford Falls, two celestial voices discuss Bailey’s dilemma and decide to send down eternally bumbling angel Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers), who after 200 years has yet to earn his wings, to help George out. But first, Clarence is given a crash course on George’s life, and the multitude of selfless acts he has performed: rescuing his younger brother from drowning, losing the hearing in his left ear in the process; enduring a beating rather than allow a grieving druggist (H.B. Warner) to deliver poison by mistake to an ailing child; foregoing college and a long-planned trip to Europe to keep the Bailey Building and Loan from letting its Depression-era customers down; and, most important, preventing town despot Potter (Lionel Barrymore) from taking over Bedford Mills and reducing its inhabitants to penury. Along the way, George has married his childhood sweetheart Mary (Donna Reed), who has stuck by him through thick and thin. But even the love of Mary and his children are insufficient when George, faced with an $8000 shortage in his books, becomes a likely candidate for prison thanks to the vengeful Potter. Bitterly, George declares that he wishes that he had never been born, and Clarence, hoping to teach George a lesson, shows him how different life would have been had he in fact never been born. After a nightmarish odyssey through a George Bailey-less Bedford Falls (now a glorified slum called Potterville), wherein none of his friends or family recognize him, George is made to realize how many lives he has touched, and helped, through his existence; and, just as Clarence had planned, George awakens to the fact that, despite all its deprivations, he has truly had a wonderful life. Capra’s first production through his newly-formed Liberty Films, It’s a Wonderful Life lost money in its original run, when it was percieved as a fairly downbeat view of small-town life. Only after it lapsed into the public domain in 1973 and became a Christmastime TV perennial did it don the mantle of a holiday classic. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell
Directed By: Frank Capra
Rating: PG (for thematic elements, smoking and some violence)
Genre: Classics, Comedy, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Written By: Frank Capra, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett
In Theaters: Dec 25, 1946 wide
On Disc/Streaming: Sep 19, 1995
Runtime: 135 minutes
Studio: Liberty Films
  Frozen (2013)
Critics Consensus: Beautifully animated, smartly written, and stocked with singalong songs, Frozen adds another worthy entry to the Disney canon.
Synopsis: Featuring the voices of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, “Frozen” is the coolest comedy-adventure ever to hit the big screen. When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell. Encountering mystical trolls, a funny snowman named Olaf, Everest-like extremes and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction. (c) Disney
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad
Directed By: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck
Rating: PG (for some action and mild rude humor)
Genre: Animation, Kids & Family
Written By: Jennifer Lee
In Theaters: Nov 27, 2013 wide
On Disc/Streaming: Mar 18, 2014
Box Office: $400,736,600
Runtime: 102 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures