10 Hanukkah movies to watch this year

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  • Hallmark's latest Hanukkah rom-com, "Hanukkah on Rye," stars Yael Grobglas and Jeremy Jordan.

  • The 2003 Disney Channel original "Full Court Miracle" follows a Jewish basketball team of underdogs.

  • Although disliked by critics, Adam Sandler's musical comedy "Eight Crazy Nights" is a classic.

"Menorah in the Middle" premiered on Hulu this year.

A still from "Menorah in the Middle" showing three people with shocked and horrified faces
A still from "Menorah in the Middle."Hulu

Where to watch: Hulu

Synopsis: Sarah (Lucy DeVito) brings her new fiancé Chad (Cristian de la Fuente) to her hometown for Hanukkah, where her family owns a bakery. Their plans go awry when Sarah's father has a heart attack and she discovers that the family business is on the verge of closing due to its financial woes. As she teams up with her old friend Ben (Jonah Platt) to save the bakery, Sarah makes new discoveries about the people closest to her.

What critics say: "The worst part of this deeply strange but ultimately pretty sweet movie is that there is absolutely no explanation for why Sarah would date Chad," Jodi Walker wrote for The Ringer. "He is rich, sure, but he is also constantly disrespecting her culture, screaming at her childhood friend that he's not family, and almost immediately upon arriving in Sarah's hometown he starts trying to … usurp her parents?"

Hallmark released a Hanukkah rom-com this year, "Hanukkah on Rye," about two competing Jewish deli owners who fall in love.

Jeremy Jordan and Yael Groblas star in "Hanukkah on Rye"
Jeremy Jordan and Yael Grobglas star in Hallmark's Hanukkah rom-com "Hanukkah on Rye."Crown Media

Where to watch: Hallmark Channel

Synopsis: As a Hanukkah gift from each of their grandmothers, Molly (Yael Grobglas) and Jacob (Jeremy Jordan) are signed up for an old-fashioned matchmaking service in which they communicate only through anonymous letters. The catch? Molly's family owns the beloved Jewish deli Gilbert's on New York City's Lower East Side, and Jacob's family is about to open their competing Zimmer's deli on the same block. Their budding romance is soon complicated when their true identities are revealed.

What critics say: "'Hanukkah on Rye' is an authentic rom-com that doesn't feel like a Christmas movie, making it a rare, quality Hanukkah film worth watching," Insider's Talia Lakritz wrote.

"Eight Gifts of Hanukkah," released in 2021, was Hallmark's first-ever purely Hanukkah movie.

A scene from Hallmark's Hanukkah movie "Eight Gifts of Hanukkah." A family gathers around a lit menorah.
"Eight Gifts of Hanukkah."Crown Media Family Networks

Where to watch: Hallmark Channel

Synopsis: Inbar Lavi stars as Sara Levin, a newly single optometrist reentering the dating world. She juggles several suitors while her childhood best friend Daniel Myers (Jake Epstein of "Degrassi: The Next Generation") secretly pines for her. On each night of Hanukkah, a thoughtful gift appears on Sara's doorstep from a secret admirer.

What critics say: "Levin and [Jake] Epstein have great chemistry, breathing moments of life and spontaneity into an otherwise stale script. And Hallmark deserves credit for casting two Jewish actors in roles where Judaism is central to their characters," Insider's Talia Lakritz wrote.

Seth Rogen plays a Jewish character, complete with a Hanukkah sweater, in "The Night Before" (2015).

Seth Rogan in "The Night Before."
"The Night Before."Sony Pictures

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Synopsis: Three childhood friends played by Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie reunite every Christmas Eve to try to find the elusive Nutcracker Ball, the best Christmas party in New York City. Hijinks ensue during the last year of the tradition.

What critics say: "The script was semi-improvised, which often shows in the film's loose, mildly chaotic tone, but it also allows the three charismatic stars to riff easily together," wrote Helen O'Hara for The Daily Telegraph.

The Disney Channel original movie "Full Court Miracle" came out in 2003.

A still from "Full Court Miracle."
"Full Court Miracle."Disney

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Synopsis: A rag-tag team of young Jewish basketball players recruits a former college basketball star to act as their own Judah Macabee to help them win their tournament during Hanukkah.

What critics say: "Director Stuart Gillard misses a prime opportunity to present a poignant and entertaining multicultural alternative to the usual holiday viewing; instead, the pic just mimics the maudlin emotions and forced sentiments of all Christmas fare — with over-the-top kosher flair," wrote Variety's Laura Fries.

"Love, Lights, Hanukkah!" (2020) centers Hanukkah traditions and their symbolism.

A still from the Hallmark movie "Love, Lights, Hanukkah!" A group of smiling people stand outside with a large menorah in the backround.
"Love, Lights, Hanukkah!"Hallmark Channel

Where to watch: Hallmark Channel or Amazon Prime Video

Synopsis: Mia Kirshner stars as Christina, a restaurant owner who discovers her Jewish ancestry through a DNA test and connects with her newfound Jewish family, the Bermans, over Hanukkah. There's also the matter of David (Ben Savage), a restaurant critic who gave Christina's lasagna a less-than-enthusiastic review but is a fixture at the Bermans' Hanukkah gatherings as a family friend.

What critics say: "Those seeking a purely Hanukkah-focused film with little mention of Christmas won't find that here. But for those open to a movie that places Hanukkah at the center of a story about family, hope, and miracles, 'Love, Lights, Hanukkah!' might just be the applesauce to your latke," wrote Talia Lakritz of Insider.

In Hallmark's "Holiday Date" (2019), Brooke hires a Jewish actor to pretend to be her boyfriend for Christmas.

A scene from Hallmark's "Holiday Date" starring Brittany Bristow and Matt Cohen.
"Holiday Date."Crown Media

Where to watch: Hallmark Channel

Synopsis: Brooke (Brittany Bristow) is dumped by her boyfriend right before the holidays, and friends convince her to bring home an actor named Joel (Matt Cohen) to pretend to be her boyfriend, instead. There's just one catch — Joel is Jewish, and his lack of Christmas knowledge threatens to expose the ruse.

What critics say: "['Holiday Date'] seems to show that those who celebrate Hanukkah and those who celebrate Christmas both have a lot to learn about each other's traditions. But in order to make this exchange plausible, the Jewish characters are rendered helpless with no apparent knowledge of Christmas, branding them further as outsiders (or as Brooke's dad calls Joel, an 'odd duck') in a culture that already treats other holidays as an afterthought," Insider's Talia Lakritz wrote.

Coworkers Chris and Rebecca face off in Hallmark's 2019 movie "Double Holiday."

A scene from Hallmark's "Double Holiday." A man flips latkes with Hanukkah decorations in the background.
"Double Holiday."Crown Media

Where to watch: Hallmark Channel

Synopsis: Two rival coworkers, Rebecca and Chris, are forced to plan the company holiday party together while competing for the same promotion.

What critics say: "I don't think that ... 'Holiday Date' set out to intentionally misrepresent Jewish people or holiday traditions. But it's unfortunate that these movies turned out to be the equivalent of a cheap, plastic menorah at a holiday party full of lush garlands and Christmas trees — a well-intentioned attempt at inclusion that ultimately highlights the disparity even more," Insider's Talia Lakritz wrote.

While "Call Me By Your Name" (2017) isn't exactly a Hanukkah movie, its iconic ending scene takes place on Hanukkah with a menorah prominently featured.

call me by your name
"Call Me By Your Name."Sony Picture Classics

Where to watch: Hulu

Synopsis: Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old living with his Jewish family in Italy, falls in love with Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old graduate student assisting Elio's father over the summer.

What critics say: "'Call Me By Your Name' is narrative in that it tells the short, bittersweet story of Elio and Oliver, but it is more a terrarium of human experience, a sensory immersion that is remarkably full in its vision. Guadagnino fills every scene with life — people, insects, plants. Each shot is busy with existence, but Guadagnino does not overwhelm," wrote Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair.

Adam Sandler's "Eight Crazy Nights" (2002) is an animated musical comedy inspired by his famous "Hanukkah Song" performed on "SNL."

eight crazy nights
"Eight Crazy Nights."Columbia Tristar Pictures

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Synopsis: Davey Stone (voiced by Sandler) is sentenced to court-mandated community service with a youth basketball league, supervised by a referee Whitey Duvall (also voiced by Sandler). He has until the end of Hanukkah to improve his ways, or face jail time.

What critics say: "'Eight Crazy Nights,' which was given a hard PG-13 for prominently featuring beloved holiday staples like 'frequent crude and sexual humor, drinking, and brief drug references,' boldly defies the conventions of holiday movies in ways that might seem audacious if the end product weren't so repellent and joyless," wrote AV Club's Nathan Rabin.

Read the original article on Insider