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9 Underrated Family Movies for the Festive Season

No offense, ‘Elf,’ But there are other movies to watch during the holidays

Vicky McDonald

Published on: December 18, 2019


During the holidays, something magical happens — and I am not just talking about the big man in the red suit. During the year, many of us watch different shows on different devices, and it’s rare for families to agree on the same thing, let alone watch it together. But for some reason, the festive season is the perfect time for a cozy family movie night

We asked ParentMap readers about their favorite family movies for the holidays. Unsurprisingly, we were inundated with proclamations of love for "Elf". We also received many suggestions for the usual suspects, "The Polar Express,"  "Home Alone," "The Nightmare Before Christmas,"  "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "Miracle on 34th St," "It's a Wonderful Life," etc. 

But perhaps this year you might want to watch something different — something nostalgic, something silly or something that you wouldn’t normally watch. Here are a few unexpected Christmas crackers from the last 30 years that you might want to try. 

Picks from the noughties

WALL·E: “Combination love story and cautionary tale with a very important message. ‘It only takes a moment to fall in love’ with this movie!” 
Ages 5+

Klaus: This recent Netflix animation from 2019 is already getting lots of love. Voiced by Rashida Jones and J.K. Simmons, this sweet movie is described as heartwarming and perfect to get you in the Christmas mood.
Ages 6+

Big Hero 6: This action/adventure animation is a hit with young kids. One of our readers loves watching it with her kids at Christmas. She describes it as "sweet and heartwarming. It’s sad but also optimistic” 
Ages 7+


Picks from the nineties 

My Neighbor Totoro: Expand your horizons with this beloved 1988 Japanese animation title that had its U.S., release in 1993. If you need a break from Pixar and Disney, this is a great movie to start with.
Ages 5+

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey: Dog lovers, get your tissues ready. According to one staff member at ParentMap, “I grew up watching it and haven't tired of the adorable animals and heartwarming story line!”
Ages 6+

While You Were Sleeping: Take a step back into the '90s with a this sweet romance, featuring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman.
Ages 11+

Picks from the eighties

The Last Starfighter: “The '80s nostalgia is peak, and it's fun to share with my son that I was his age when this movie came out.”
Ages 9+

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: This classic family comedy from the '80s is full of heart. 
Ages 9+

The Karate Kid: Who can resist this one!? “'The Karate Kid' is one that I secretly love from back when I was a kid.”
Ages 11+

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