MOVIEGUIDE®’s Top Ten Family-Friendly Christmas Movies

MOVIEGUIDE®’s Top Ten Family-Friendly Christmas Movies

By Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher

MOVIEGUIDE® has put together a list of great movies for the Christmas season, starting with the movie that shows clearly the reason for the season, THE NATIVITY STORY.

1. THE NATIVITY STORY, Quality:  * * * * Acceptability:  +4 – 2006:  THE NATIVITY STORY is one of those very rare movies that brings the Gospel alive in a compelling, interesting, entertaining manner that shatters expectations. The movie references and quotes Scripture throughout. King Herod sends out the troops to kill all the innocents in Bethlehem and stop the prophecy that there will be born a King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The movie then flashes back to a year earlier in the town of Nazareth, introducing the audience to the life of Joseph and Mary. Soon, an angel of God comes to Mary to tell her that she is with God’s child, born by the Holy Spirit. Joseph and Mary have to journey to Bethlehem to register for the Roman census. In the fullness of time, the prophecies of God are fulfilled. THE NATIVITY STORY is a wonderful movie. The dialogue, the plot development, the turning points are refreshingly dramatic. Best of all, THE NATIVITY STORY testifies in every way to Jesus the Messiah and is clearly evangelistic without being preachy.

2. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, Quality:  * * * * Acceptability:  +3 – 1946:  Jimmy Stewart plays the beleaguered but good-hearted George Bailey, who finds out what life would be like if he’d never been born. A very slight caution is urged because of the false angelology, although the movie is number one on our list because of its emotive revelation of man’s relationship to God, who answers our prayers.

3. YOUNG MESSIAH, Quality:  * * * *     Acceptability:  +4 – 2016: THE YOUNG MESSIAH is about the young Jesus living in Egypt with Mary and Joseph and then returning to Israel. It is extremely powerful and emotional, and represents all the elements of who Jesus was in an allegorical, dramatic way. The movie is like a visual, entertaining sermon that presents the totality of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in a wonderful, unique, winsome, dramatic way.

4. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, Quality:  * * * * Acceptability:  +4 – 1965:  The great, classic television show is like a little animated movie. It’s about Charlie Brown pondering the meaning of Christmas, with Linus giving Charlie Brown the real reason for the season.

5. KING OF KINGS (silent), Quality:  * * * * Acceptability:  +4 – 1927:  The famous H.B. Warner played Jesus in Cecil B. DeMille’s KING OF KINGS, which is still the classic of all movies about Jesus Christ.

6. SCROOGE, Quality:  * * * * Acceptability:  +3 – 1951:  Starring Alastair Sim, this well-crafted and faithful version of Dickens’ classic is so good it can be watched year round. Sim does a marvelous, classic job of bringing Scrooge to life in this heartwarming masterpiece. Furthermore, Tiny Tim is adorable, and the Cratchit family is absolutely heartwarming and tear-jerking.

7. THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, Quality:  * * * * Acceptability:  +3 – 1992:  This is a live-action musical that retells the classic Dickens story with all our Muppet favorites, and actor Michael Caine as Scrooge.

8. BEN-HUR, Quality:  * * * * Acceptability:  +4 – 1959: Subtitled A TALE OF THE CHRIST, this is an epic story of a young Jewish man, Judah Ben-Hur, played by Charlton Heston, who lives at the time of Christ. When his sisters contract leprosy, he can either choose to hate the Romans or find healing and forgiveness through the blood of Christ.

9. DOLLY PARTON’S CHRISTMAS OF MANY COLORS:  CIRCLE OF LOVE, Quality:  * * * * Acceptability:  +4 – 2016:  DOLLY PARTON’S CHRISTMAS OF MANY COLORS:  CIRCLE OF LOVE, young Dolly Parton and her whole family make sacrifices so they can get their Mama a ring for Christmas, but a blizzard puts everything in jeopardy. The delightful acting and wonderful focus on faith, prayer and forgiveness in DOLLY PARTON’S CHRISTMAS OF MANY COLORS makes it a breath of fresh air for the whole family.

10. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA:  THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, Quality:  * * * * Acceptability:  +1 – 2005:  THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, based on C. S. Lewis’s popular Christian fable, tells the story of four English children, who enter the land of Narnia, where they meet Aslan, the son of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea, who rescues the land from the evil White Witch. Despite some minor changes from the book, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE retains most of its Christian focus and is tremendously exciting, thrilling, and redemptive.


At Movieguide(R)  we’ve pulled together a list of movies that faithfully show the meaning of the Resurrection season.

Check them out, some of them you’ll recognize, some of them you won’t, some may even surprise you that they are on the list.










Quality: * * * *     Acceptability: +2

1948: The bright and happy Hollywood holiday classic starring Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Ann Miller, with fabulous songs by Irving Berlin and directed by Vincente Minnelli. The “Easter Parade” ending would make a perfect transition to a more religious movie, such as THE ROBE or QUO VADIS, in celebration of Easter.



TO THE ARCTIC is a 40-minute IMAX documentary about the Arctic and the animals living there. The 3D IMAX photography is amazing, but the story told is a little episodic, and the filmmakers use their movie to promote the global warming theory of the total destruction of the Arctic ice by 2040 or 2050. In reality, however, a Feb. 8, 2012 story in U.S. News and World Report said that the Arctic ice is melting 30% less than previously thought (
TO THE ARCTIC begins with some stunning 3D photography of snow falling, then of a huge ice flow in the Arctic during summertime. As usually happens during the summer, multiple waterfalls occur on the giant cliff faces of the ice flow.
To support its global warming hypothesis, the movie briefly interviews an Inuit Eskimo, a diver who explores beneath the ice flows and cavorts with walruses, and two scientists following the migration of the caribou herds. Eventually, it focuses on a polar bear mother and her two cubs as they search for food among the summer ice flows. The three polar bears also are shown fending off a male polar bear that wants to eat the cubs because he can’t find any seals to hunt.
The photography in TO THE ARCTIC is stunning. It takes a while, however, to get to the captivating story about the mother polar bear and her two cubs. Thus, the first half of TO THE ARCTIC is more like an informational documentary rather than a dramatic narrative. Though it does appear the Arctic ice is melting more, the extent and the causes are disputed by some scientists. It’s also unknown whether the melting will make our weather cooler or warmer. Warmer weather may help farmers grow more food, but cooler weather apparently kills more people.
Whatever the case, however, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution regarding this particular nature documentary until more facts become clear.


LOCKOUT is a violent B movie about a prison revolt in the future on a prison spaceship orbiting Earth. It’s reasonably entertaining, but there’s plenty of foul language and intense violence.
To get out of prison for a murder he didn’t commit, secret agent Snow offers to rescue the President’s daughter. Emilie has been taken hostage by the convicts on the prison spaceship MS One. Luckily, they don’t know who she is yet.
Before the government tries to secretly smuggle him on board, Snow also learns that the friend who could exonerate him is also aboard the prison ship. Can Snow rescue both the President’s daughter and his friend before the convict leader and his vicious brother find out?
LOCKOUT is exciting enough to merit some interest. It’s energized by a quirky, likeable performance by Guy Pearce as the wise-cracking hero. There are some plot holes. Also, some editing jumps are off-putting or confusing. This is a movie, however, that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The script is infused with some humor, and that helps a lot. Directing the movie is two first-time directors from Ireland.
Basically, LOCKOUT is a heroic story about saving the damsel in distress from the bad guys. That aspect of LOCKOUT is positive, if not morally uplifting, but the movie contains plenty of foul language and very strong violence. So, extreme caution is warranted.


TOUCHBACK is an excellent, rewarding sports drama, with fine acting and solid direction. However, it does have a lot of mostly light foul language. Also, there’s a minor Deus Ex Machina problem at the end of the third act that raises too many questions. The movie glides by that problem to present the movie’s final climax, which gives the movie a great “It’s a wonderful life” resolution.
The story in TOUCHBBACK focuses on Scott Murphy, a farmer and part-time firefighter in Coldwater, Ohio. In high school, Scott was on the brink of getting a major football scholarship from Ohio State. However, he badly injured his knee scoring the winning touchdown in the state championship against a much bigger high school team from Cleveland.
Fifteen years later, Scott is struggling to make his farm work and to feed his wife, Macy, and their two young daughters. Tragedy strikes in the form of a frost. The frost threatens Scott’s soybean crop. If he can’t harvest the beans that very day, he will lose his farm, which is on the brink of foreclosure. He gets the last harvesting machine available, but the machine breaks down.
Sadly, Scott decides the only way out is suicide, so that his family can collect the fireman insurance he has. He stuffs a rag in his old rusted truck’s tailpipe. As the deadly smoke fills the truck’s cab. Scott is suddenly thrust back to his high school days, the week before the big championship game. Scott figures he has a chance to change history, but if he changes history, he might just lose his future wife, Macy. Scott has some choices to make.
TOUCHBACK is one of those “change-your-destiny” movies in the vein of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. It’s very well edited and directed, with excellent acting by the whole cast. The two leads who play Scott and Macy are ably supported by two veterans, Kurt Russell as Scott’s high school coach and Christine Lahti as Scott’s mother. As a result, TOUCHBACK is a very compelling and absorbing movie that holds the viewer’s attention throughout.
Of course, TOUCHBACK doesn’t reach the heights of emotional greatness of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but very few movies do that. The problem that stops it from being a four-star movie is a plot point that occurs in the third act. It involves the solution to how Scott returns to the present day intact, alive instead of dead. The solution the filmmakers create is an unexplained Deus Ex Machina device. Basically, it’s an unexpected, artificial solution to Scott’s situation. In fact, the scene plays as if a quirk of fate entered the story to save Scott from himself. This scene occurs right before the movie’s morally uplifting, touching ending, so it doesn’t really ruin the picture. So, many viewers may not notice it or be bothered by it.
There’s a lot of light foul language in TOUCHBACK. Also, there’s a somewhat comical scene featuring some nude skinny-dipping at night, though nothing salacious is shown. In a couple other scenes, Scott’s old flame in high school, a pretty cheerleader, makes a couple light innuendoes about making out with Scott. Finally, TOUCHBACK imparts some strong, morally uplifting life lessons. For instance, it shows other people helping a person in need. Also, Scott, the protagonist, learns to do the right thing, no matter what the cost. That said, these positive lessons occur without reference to God or the Bible. So, there’s no real solid foundation for the movie’s promotion of right over wrong. Overall, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children.


COMIC-CON EPISODE IV: A FAN’S HOPE is a funny foray into the biggest science fiction convention in the world: COMIC-CON in San Diego. Each July, more than 100,000 people gather in San Diego to celebrate science fiction, fantasy stories, movies, and comic books. Every year, Hollywood sends its top filmmakers and stars to hype the next year’s blockbuster science fiction and fantasy movies, from LORD OF THE RINGS to CAPTAIN AMERICA. Of course, some of the comic book enthusiasts who started the convention resent this, but what can they do? A cultural phenomenon of gigantic proportions has occurred.
Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, this time working effectively behind the camera rather than in front of it, follows several people who attended the convention a couple years ago. Among them are two artists, Eric and Skip, trying to break into the comic book profession; a costume designer, Holly, anxious to reveal her latest wonderful creations at the staged masquerade event that happens every Saturday night at one of these weekend conventions; a young man fan, James, who wants to propose publicly to his girlfriend at one of the movie panel discussions; and, Chuck, a longtime comic book dealer trying to make some big sales at the convention to pay off his debts. Interlaced with these four stories are comments about Comic-Con from filmmakers, successful comic book artists, the major creator behind SPIDER-MAN and many other Marvel comic book superheroes, actors, and fans.
COMIC-CON EPISODE IV is very funny and surprisingly touching. The biggest emotions are elicited from the stories concerning the two would-be comic book artists and the man who wants to propose to his girlfriend.
The biggest flaw in the movie, and it’s a big one, is iconoclastic filmmaker Kevin Smith (RED STATE and CLERKS). Though Smith only dabbles at the edges of science fiction and fantasy, for some reason the young man who wants to propose wants to do it at the panel featuring Smith. So, there are a lot of general clips of Smith talking about what Comic-Con means to him and other fans. Regrettably, his comments contain, like his unimpressive awful movies, foul language and lewd jokes. The “f” words are bleeped out so the movie can retain a PG-13 rating, but there’s no reason to include so much of this despicable human being in this movie. Especially since the guy only refers to comic books and science fiction in his movies. He’s never actually made a bonafide science fiction movie. Furthermore, last time MOVIEGUIDE® checked, Kevin Smith is not a major figure in the comic book industry.
This mystery aside, COMIC-CON EPISODE IV is a very entertaining documentary. Caution, however, is advised for some crude language. Also, the world of Comic-Con and other science fiction, fantasy conventions is generally a pagan, antinomian world. There are a few Christian groups on the fringes of the convention scene, mostly because of the work of Christians like C.S. Lewis, author of the NARNIA fantasy series and the OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET science fiction trilogy, and J.R.R. Tolkien, author of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Some of them even hold Sunday services at the conventions. However, these small Christian groups are usually not the leaders at these conventions. They aren’t even in the vanguard of the movement, despite the Christian underpinning of stories like LORD OF THE RINGS and the Christian, redemptive content in recent MOVIEGUIDE® Award-winning blockbuster movies like the SPIDER-MAN movies, I AM LEGEND starring Will Smith, and last year’s CAPTAIN AMERICA. Christians should get more involved in these kinds of stories, however, because they’ve been the biggest trend in the world of artistic creation and entertainment ever since STAR WARS burst upon the cultural scene in the 1970s. These stories are changing the world and shaping the hearts and minds of future generations. Christians can’t afford to ignore them.