The 10 best modern family-friendly Christmas movies to stream
Let’s face it: as great as it is, there’s only so many times you can watch Home Alone each Christmas before you start sympathising with the McCallisters for ditching Kevin.
As with any movie genre, while it’s great to celebrate its history, it’s just as important to look forward to its future — and while we’ve all been busy getting festive with the Muppets or stealing Christmas with the Grinch — there’s been plenty of top-notch seasonal hits released in recent years.
Read more: 11 things you might not know about The Snowman
Don’t believe us? Here’s 10 new Christmas movies the whole family can enjoy this December and where to find them.
Klaus - Netflix
The CGI animation boom can make it easy to forget just how fantastic and downright charming traditional 2D animation can be — especially when it’s combined with a great story. Klaus, from Spanish animator-director Sergio Pablos, is the perfect case in point. Featuring the voices of Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones and J.K Simmons among others, it tells the quaint and beautifully-realised tale of how the legend of Santa Claus came to be way back in 19th-century Norway.
At its core, it’s a wonderfully festive escape that’s guaranteed to warm the cockles - while its simple-yet-effective animation style harks back to Disney’s second renaissance period in the early 90s. All in all, Klaus a must-watch this Christmas.
The Christmas Chronicles - Netflix
If you like your Santa with cool shades, sweet sax skills and a devil-may-care attitude, then Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles is probably the film for you. Produced by Home Alone director Chris Columbus, this relatively new Christmas epic sticks 80s movie icon, Kurt Russell, in the iconic red suit as Christmas Eve’s headlining act.
When two young kids plan to catch this secretive present-placer in the act, they unwittingly get swept away with the big man on an adventure that winds up restoring their faith in the holidays. Who’d have guessed? Fans can even get two bites of the Christmas cookie, as The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two is also available on Netflix, this time bringing Mrs Claus — AKA Russell’s real-life wife Goldie Hawn — along for the ride too.
Home Sweet Home Alone - Disney+
How do you reboot one of the most successful Christmas movies ever? Well, the short answer is, you don’t — you add a new twist on a familiar story and hope for the best. That was the case with 2021’s Home Sweet Home Alone, a Disney+ release that left fast-talking kid Max Mercer (Archie Yates) guarding his family home with nothing but some quips and a surprising skill for building complex and probably quite lethal traps standing between him and two bumbling burglars.
Watch: The cast of Home Sweet Home Alone talk to Yahoo
To be honest, attempting to reboot something that’s come to define festive nostalgia for an entire generation was always going to be tricky. While this left-field reboot definitely isn’t perfect (it’d help if our hero was likeable for a start), its comedy cast and Christmas vibes make it worth adding to your small-screen rotation nonetheless.
The Grinch - Prime Video
Christmas is all about the same stories being told time and time again. That said, Jim Carrey's living-cartoon take on How The Grinch Stole Christmas in 2000 felt so definitive, it didn’t look like there was much wriggle room for further interpretation. Still, that didn’t stop Universal Pictures from trying, and in 2018 they handed the role of Whoville’s harrumph-iest green grump to Benedict Cumberbatch for an all-new animated take on this Dr Seuss classic.
The end result is infinitely more colourful yet just as wholesome, with its bright and breezy pallet making it the perfect festive watch for younger fans who may be a little too green behind the ears to get all of Carrey’s Grinchy gags.
Falling For Christmas - Netflix
It’s been a while since Lindsay Lohan last graced our screens. For a long time, the Mean Girls star seemed lost in a cinematic wilderness but now she’s back and climbing up the Netflix charts in festive love story, Falling For Christmas. Here, she stars as a spoiled heiress who loses her memory only to fall into the care of a recently-bereaved lodge owner who just so happens to need his faith in relationships restored. Expect lots of snow, jingle bells and seasonal hijinks as this seemingly polar opposite duo slowly start to realise how much they have in common.
It may feel just a few notches on the candy cane above a Hallmark Christmas Special at times — but Lohan’s welcome return makes Falling For Christmas an unlikely festive hit.
Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio - Netflix (from 9 December)
Visionary director Guillermo del Toro heads to the world of stop-motion to tell a tale he’s been working on for the better part of a decade via master puppet makers Mackinnon and Saunders. You may recognise their work on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride or Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox but here they put their skills at making puppets that come to life to work on a story about a puppet-maker that makes a puppet that comes to life.
While sticking closely to Carlo Collodi’s original story and Gris Grimly’s designs from his 2002 take on the novel, del Toro’s Pinocchio is a life-affirming tale of fatherhood, acceptance and the joys (and perils) of life itself. With its wintery visuals and rustic motifs, it can happily be considered a great Christmas movie, too.
Spirited - Apple TV+
So many takes on A Christmas Carol, so little time… If you’re looking for Dickens’ detour that takes the story forward instead of back towards your childhood, then Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds have you covered in their all-singing, all-dancing new one Spirited.
Watch: Octavia Spencer and Will Ferrell talk to Yahoo about Spirited
Available to watch exclusively on Apple TV+, it stars Ferrell as Present, one of the three ghosts responsible for the annual soul-redeeming haunting made famous by this slice of classic literature, alongside ghosts Past and Yet-To-Come.
Read more: Will Ferrell responds to Asda's Elf advert
Meanwhile, in reality, it’s Reynolds’ cynical media man Clint who’s in the hot seat and about to have his frosty demeanour thawed via lots of song and dance. Fancy breaking up screenings of Ferrell’s Elf this December? This’ll do the trick.
A Boy Called Christmas - NOW (Sky Cinema Membership)
Christmas movies can often be so obsessed with familiar tropes, narratives and story arcs that experiencing something new can sometimes feel like a rarity. However, in 2021’s A Boy Called Christmas, we’re delivered a different festive fairytale that doesn’t skimp on the magic and cosiness you’d expect from a Christmas story.
It takes us deep into a kids book world where we learn the origin story of Father Christmas himself, meeting him back when he was just a little boy obsessed with finding the location of a mystical elf realm known as Elfhelm. It’s directed by Monster House helmer and Ghostbusters Afterlife co-writer Gil Keenan, and as with these two previous works, you can expect heart and spectacle in equal measure.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey - Netflix
Toys are a big part of Christmas but what happens when they’re the ones responsible for stealing your hope and holiday cheer? That’s the case in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. This expertly choreographed musical movie hit Netflix last year, boasting an all-star cast that included Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Bonneville and Ricky Martin.
It followed the redemption of a great inventor known as Jeronicus Jangle (Whitaker) who rediscovers his purpose with the help of his equally-inventive granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills). An explosion of colour, practical effects and storybook magic, it’s one of the more undersung holiday movies of recent years and definitely worth your time this December.
Scrooge: A Christmas Carol - Netflix (from 2 December)
A new Christmas often means a new take on A Christmas Carol — and audiences can get exactly that from Netflix from 2 December. Set in an animated world, Scrooge: A Christmas Carol gatherers an all-star vocal cast including Luke Evans as the titular miser, The Crown stars Oliva Colman as the ghost of Christmas Past and Jonathan Pryce as Jocob Marley, and Jessie Buckley as Isabel Fezziwig.
Boasting stunning visuals and plenty of singalong moments from two-time Academy Award-winning composer and lyricist Leslie Bricusse OBE, this new take on a classic promises to be enough to prove there’s life in this old story yet.