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Monday, December 20, 2010

Best Christmas Movies for Kids

best christmas movies

Macaulay Culkin in "Home Alone." Credit: Everett Collection

For many families, settling down together to watch a Christmas movie is as much a tradition as hanging stockings and trimming the tree. To help you plan your viewing schedule, we've rounded up a list of our 20 favorite Christmas movies for kids. From tots to teens, you will find a little something for everyone here. Included are the old classics, some more recent favorites and a couple you may have even forgotten about.

Think we left something out? Tell us your favorite Christmas films by leaving a comment below!

1. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964): From a 1939 story by Robert L. May, the character of Rudolph was made famous in this stop-motion animation movie that first aired on NBC in 1964. Digitally remastered in 2005, this heart-warming story about a misfit reindeer and his glowing red nose has become a Christmas tradition in many families.

2. "Olive, The Other Reindeer" (1999): A character born out of a misunderstanding of the lyrics to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Olive the dog got her own animated special thanks to executive producer Matt Groening of "The Simpsons" fame. Olive is a sweet little dog who misunderstands Santa when he says he needs the help of "all of the other reindeer" to prevent Christmas from being canceled.

3. "A Christmas Story" (1983): What could be more entertaining than a loving-but-dysfunctional family at Christmastime? Set in the 1940s, the story of Ralphie Parker and the build-up to what he hopes will be the best Christmas ever gets funnier every year. Catch it during its annual 24-hour airing on TBS each Christmas Eve.

4. "Frosty the Snowman" (1969): The story of a magical snowman with a big personality, this movie was based on a song made famous by Gene Autry in 1950. In addition to a magic hat, this 30-minute animated movie has drama, redemption and a surprise appearance by Santa Claus himself.

5. "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947): Every child who has ever wondered if the department store Santa is the real thing will find reason to believe in this Academy Award-winning movie. A young Natalie Wood gives a beautiful and touching performance as a little girl who helps those around her learn the true meaning of Christmas.

6. "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966): He's a mean one, but we love the Grinch as he tries to spoil Christmas for the residents of Who-ville. As with all good villain movies, the bad guy learns a lesson in the end and everyone lives happily ever after.

7. "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000): The beauty and whimsy of Dr. Seuss' imagination comes to life in Ron Howard's live-action remake of the 1966 classic. Jim Carrey is perfectly cast as the Grinch and the mayhem and madness are laugh-out-loud funny.

8. "The Year Without a Santa Claus" (1974): In this claymation television special, Santa Claus does the unthinkable: He gets fed up and decides to take a vacation instead of delivering Christmas gifts. Mrs. Claus comes to the rescue as she and the elves try to help the world rediscover the spirit of Christmas.

9. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965): It just wouldn't be Christmas without Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. A timeless story about a boy searching for the true meaning of the holiday, the film is memorable not only for the sad little tree in which he finds it, but also for the wonderful score by composer Vince Guaraldi.

10. "The Muppet Christmas Carol" (1992): Jim Henson's Muppets do Dickens in this kid-friendly adaptation of the classic story. With Kermit as Bob Cratchit and Miss Piggy as his wife, the film is as silly as you would expect and surprisingly touching.

11. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993): Santa gets the Tim Burton treatment in this offbeat and somewhat bizarre stop-action fantasy movie. Alternately scary and funny, the movie features a ghoulish Jack Skellington kidnapping and torturing Santa in an effort to take over Christmas.

12. "Home Alone" (1990): Bumbling criminals try to take advantage of a boy left home alone on Christmas in this slapstick comedy by the late John Hughes. The movie that launched Macaulay Culkin's career is as entertaining today as it was when first released.

13. "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" (1992): Not quite as good as the original but still a blast, this film showcases New York City decked out in all its Christmas finery. The slapstick comedy might be over the top, but the hilarious work of Tim Curry makes it all worthwhile.

14. "Eloise at Christmastime" (2003): Eloise, the imp of the Plaza Hotel, plays matchmaker in this movie based on the popular books by Kay Thompson. Charming and sweet, Eloise teaches the adults around her about compassion in her own mischievous and delightful way.

15. "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" (1998): Charles Dickens goes to the dogs in a canine version of the classic Christmas tale. A big, bad bulldog gets schooled in the true meaning of Christmas by lovable Charlie and his cute sidekick, Itchy.

16. "The Polar Express" (2004): Live performances were translated into digital images for this unique-looking animated film starring Tom Hanks. Groundbreaking filmmaking technique aside, it's a timeless story about a young boy trying to discover the true meaning of Christmas.

17. "Elf" (2003): Will Ferrell is up to his usual tricks as Buddy, an orphan raised by Santa Claus and his elves. Returning to the real world in search of his father, Buddy finds hilarious adventure -- and love -- in New York City.

18. "Mickey's Christmas Carol" (1983): Disney's version of the Charles Dickens classic takes Ebeneezer Scrooge McDuck on a journey to find the true meaning of Christmas. Ghosts Goofy and Jiminy Crickett, along with Bob Cratchit Mickey and his nephew Fred Donald, help Scrooge see the light before it's too late.

19. "Prancer" (1989): A tear-jerker with a happy ending, this film features a young girl struggling to repair her broken family while nursing a special reindeer back to health. Full of heart and warmth, the film is touching without being too sappy.

20. "A Christmas Carol" (1951): Of all the versions of Dickens' classic story, this one is by far the best. A beautifully simple presentation devoid of special effects and gimmicks, it's a film every family should see this time of year.

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