Top 10 Family-Friendly Christmas Movies

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Top 10 Family-Friendly Christmas Movies

By Movieguide® Staff

Tis the season! Ring in the celebration of Christ’s birth with a few of our top picks:

  1. THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL

Quality:  * * * *

Acceptability:  +3

1992

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL is a live-action musical where the Muppets tell the classic Dickens story, with Michael Caine as Scrooge. Scrooge is beset by three ghosts who show him the past, present and future results of his greed and bitterness. The two elderly grumps are back as Jacob and Robert Marley, Scrooge’s deceased partners. Also, Kermit and Miss Piggy play the happily married Bob and Emily Cratchit, with piglet daughters and froggie sons, including crippled Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim is part of the happy ending and mentions going to church as a testimony that God causes blind eyes to see and makes the lame to walk. THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL is a Christian, biblical allegory depicting a depraved man who repents of his selfishness, confesses his sinfulness, turns to God, and proceeds to walk in the Holy Spirit by showing kindness and generosity to everyone. It’s fun for the whole family, with plenty of finger-snapping musical numbers, breathtaking Victorian costumes, winter scenery, and surprise appearances by Muppet favorites. There’s plenty of fun to go around in this Christmas movie favorite!

  1. THE NATIVITY STORY

Quality:  * * * *

Acceptability:  +4

2006

THE NATIVITY STORY is one of those very rare movies that brings the Gospel to life in a compelling, interesting and 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 and 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.

  1. THE STAR

Quality:  * * * *

Acceptability:  +4

2017

THE STAR is a wonderful, hilarious and deeply reverential animated family movie centered on the birth of Jesus, but from the perspective of a lowly donkey named Bo. Bo and his best friend, Dave the dove, have grand dreams of joining the royal parade. When Bo escapes his owner’s clutches, he finds himself accompanying a pregnant Mary and her husband Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. Bo may be a part of a bigger adventure than he expected. However, the evil King Herod has his top guard looking for the pregnant Mary.

THE STAR is tremendous fun, with wonderful lessons along the way. A touching story from a unique perspective, THE STAR sets itself apart from many of the other nativity movies. Obviously, the movie takes creative liberties by condensing certain accounts found in the Bible and shifting the timeline of others. However, the movie deftly balances the goofy fun of the animals with a deeply redemptive reverence for God and the birth of Jesus Christ. Overall, THE STAR is almost totally void of objectionable content. It’s a must-see Christmas movie for every family.

  1. DR SEUSS’ THE GRINCH

Quality:  * * * *

Acceptability:  +4

2018

DR. SEUSS’ THE GRINCH is a great animated movie about the true meaning of Christmas triumphing over alienation and materialism. The movie opens with the people of Whoville full of joy anticipating Christmas, their favorite holiday. After watching from his mountain fortress and buying food in Whoville, the Grinch decides to steal Christmas. He will dress up as Santa Claus, steal a sleigh from his neighbor’s house and recruit a fat, lovable reindeer named Fred. With help from his dog, Max, the Grinch will visit every home in Whoville to steal the Christmas tree, ornaments and presents.

THE GRINCH is a precious, delightful, superbly made movie. The colorful animation shows incredible imagination. The humor is delightful. The love is heartwarming. It’s well-designed, well-written, and well-organized. The movie’s message is that Christmas can triumph over the meanest, most alienated heart. It features loving parents and children, a joyous community of inspired Whos, and a terrific character arc for the Grinch. Plus, it has great Christmas carols focusing on Jesus Christ and His redemptive divinity and love. MOVIEGUIDE® fell in love with THE GRINCH. We think you will too. 

  1. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Quality:  * * * *

Acceptability:  +3

1946

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is the Christmas movie classic, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. It’s about the struggling owner of a small-town savings and loan company who discovers, with the help of a quirky angel named Clarence, that he’s the richest man in the world. After years of struggling to make ends meet, George Bailey contemplates suicide when his forgetful uncle accidentally misplaces $8,000. George’s family and friends are praying to God and as a result, God sends a bumbling but lovable angel who happens upon the one thing that will remind George that he’s really led a wonderful life.

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is arguably the most beloved movie of all time. It’s certainly the most uplifting, rewarding and redemptive movie. It’s also funny, emotionally powerful, psychologically enriching, and beautifully made. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a pro-life masterpiece by Director Frank Capra, with brilliant performances by Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and a cast of terrific character actors. Slight caution is advised for some false angelology, but the movie honors God in a whimsical, profound and powerful way.

  1. BLACK NATIVITY

Quality:  * * * *

Acceptability:  +4

2013

BLACK NATIVITY is a musical drama inspired by Langston Hughes’ play. The story follows Langston, a teenager living with his single mother in Baltimore. With Christmas right around the corner, Langston finds out he and his mother are being evicted from their home. Nowhere to go, his mother decides to send Langston to stay with his grandparents in Harlem alone. For some reason, Langston’s mother stopped speaking to them right before he was born. Her decision to send Langston to Harlem sparks tension, reveals secrets and tests everyone’s faith.

BLACK NATIVITY is a moving, powerful story that extols God’s Grace, faith, and family. The cast does a wonderful job bringing their characters to life. The musical numbers are beautiful. The ones at the end are brilliantly integrated into the family’s story. Best of all, BLACK NATIVITY has an uplifting, inspiring message of Christian faith. Filled with Scripture, Gospel songs, worship, and prayer, BLACK NATIVITY makes a clarion call for reconciliation through forgiveness. There’s a threat of violence in one scene and a couple “d” obscenities, so MOVIEGUIDE® advises a light caution for BLACK NATIVITY.

  1. DOLLY PARTON’S CHRISTMAS OF MANY COLORS: CIRCLE OF LOVE

Quality:  * * * *

Acceptability:  +4

2016

DOLLY PARTON’S CHRISTMAS OF MANY COLORS: CIRCLE OF LOVE is a follow up to the MOVIEGUIDE® award winning TV movie COAT OF MANY COLORS. In this program, Dolly’s father and her siblings make sacrifices so they can get their Mama a beautiful ring, something she’s never had. Dolly is excited that her prayers are answered, and she gets to play the Virgin Mary in the church Nativity play. However, when a blizzard hits the farm, everyone is put in danger.

CIRCLE OF LOVE is a delightful TV program. Though the storytelling is bumpy at times, the acting is top notch. The movie’s jeopardy and stakes are stronger this time, but the emotional conflicts aren’t quite as powerful as COAT OF MANY COLORS. Even so, the program’s message of sacrifice, acceptance and forgiveness is strong. It’s all wrapped in an overt message of Christian faith. There are only a couple of brief, minor objectionable elements. Otherwise DOLLY PARTON’S CHRISTMAS OF MANY COLORS: CIRCLE OF LOVE is a perfect program to get families into the real spirit of Christmas.

  1. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

In the animated classic short, A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, Charlie Brown wonders why he feels sad despite the Christmas festivities. Charlie’s friend Linus asserts that he needs something productive to understand the reason for the season. Lucy dubs Charlie the director of the Christmas play, but Charlie picks a scrawny Christmas tree that his friends mock. At the end, Linus reminds Charlie Brown and everyone else that the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS contains much of the wonderful spirit of the PEANUTS comic strip created by Charles Schultz. The music fits the onscreen action perfectly, and the animation is priceless. The child voice actors are perfect. The animated short has many Christmas carols and stresses the value of serving others during Christmas. A few times, characters call each other stupid, and Lucy and Snoopy get into a tiff, but these elements are comical and don’t cast a shadow on the sweet story. Best of all, A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS has a very strong Christian, biblical worldview that puts the focus squarely on celebrating the birth of Jesus.

  1. THE PREACHER’S WIFE

Quality:  * * * *

Acceptability:  +3

1996

Praise the Lord for THE PREACHER’S WIFE! In the movie, Henry Biggs, the pastor of a rundown, inner-city church, is burned out. He’s given everything he has in service to God. The last straw is that a greedy developer, Joe Hamilton, has bought the mortgage on the church and wants to turn it into a mall. In desperation, Henry utters one last prayer to God. Suddenly, the angel Dudley, played by Denzel Washington, falls out of heaven. The good natured but sometimes inept Dudley tries to help, and eventually, he gets everyone to do their part. However, the big question is, “Will Joe Hamilton destroy the church and will this be Henry’s last Christmas sermon?”

A remake of THE BISHOP’S WIFE, this superb movie contains winsome dialog, strong theological references to Jesus Christ, the Christmas story told in Bible readings, song and drama, constant references to God, and biblical references to the church holding the neighborhood together. It also rebukes temptation, upholds God’s Law, honors marriage, commends prayer, lifts up salvation, and extols forgiveness. It is flawed only by the “It’s A Wonderful Life”-type angel explanation, but this is counterbalanced by clear references to God’s Law and Grace. In fact, movies don’t get much better than this one. THE PREACHER’S WIFE is an emotional roller coaster that asks viewers to confront the true meaning of faith and love.

  1. THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS

Quality:  * * * *

Acceptability:  +1

2017

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS is a thoroughly delightful, enthralling movie about how Charles Dickens crafted the beloved Christmas classic A CHRISTMAS CAROL. A year after he wraps up a crowd-pleasing tour in America, Dickens finds himself overwhelmed with debt. He desperately needs to write another hit. Miraculously, he happens upon the idea for A CHRISTMAS CAROL, but the publishers say Christmas books aren’t popular. So, he decides to finance the book himself. Meanwhile, his irresponsible father shows up on his doorstep. Can Dickens finish his book in time for Christmas? Can his father redeem himself in his son’s eyes?

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS is full of laughter, tears and brilliance. Dan Stevens gives a magnificent, exuberant performance as Charles Dickens. Funny, ingenious scenes show Dickens interacting with characters from A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Heartfelt scenes show Dickens trying to come to terms with his own miserly attitude toward his own father. THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS is a brilliant celebration of the Christmas spirit, one of the best Christmas movies ever made. Some scary scenes warrant caution for younger children.

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