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Kids' Edition: Five Overlooked Christmas Movie Classics Suitable for the Whole Family

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by John Burns (subscribe)
I am a writer and teacher, out and about in the world but with Nottingham never far from my heart.
Published December 23rd 2014
Festive fun for the whole family
We recently brought you a list of five often overlooked movies for Christmas time. While that list contained some stone cold Christmas classics, it was maybe not the most family friendly of viewing itineraries.

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Albert Chevallier Tayler's The Christmas Tree

So, we decided to follow it up with another list, this time charting five Christmas kids' movie classics you might have missed amongst all the "Elf"s and "Frozen"s. Get the whole family round and settle down for one or more of these cinematic family gems!

Ernest Saves Christmas


The third in the cult series of "Ernest" movies, Ernest Saves Christmas follows Ernest T. Worrell as he races to find a successor for an aging (151 year old) Santa. It's a fast-paced caper which leans towards the slapstick rather than the highbrow – in other words, everything you could want from a family Christmas movie.

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Released in 1988, Ernest Saves Christmas has dated somewhat in the 25 years since its premiere, but has garnered a well deserved cult following, and is a charming piece of 1980s festive escapism.

Prancer


A little gentler than the madcap pace of Ernest Saves Christmas, Prancer was released the following year in 1989. This sentimental tale follows 8-year-old Jessica – a little girl who has recently experienced tragedy in her life – and her disaffected father as they endure their first Christmas without Jessica's mother.

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When young Jessica – played with aplomb by 9-year-old Rebecca Harrell – finds an injured reindeer near her Michigan home, she decides to try to nurse it back to health, while also trying to lift the spirits of her down-on-his-luck father.

This one is a bit of a tear-jerker in places, so have the tissues handy!

Blizzard


Released in 2003 to brief acclaim, this Canadian gem of a kids' film has since passed into relative obscurity. Directed by LeVar Burton, Blizzard is a story within a story, telling the tale of a young girl who loves to ice skate, which is in turn narrated by Brenda Blethyn's Aunt Millie to her melancholy niece.

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This is a beguiling piece of children's cinema that has enough about it to appeal to the whole family. Throw in a few talking reindeer – including the eponymous Blizzard, voiced by none other than Whoopi Goldberg – and you have the recipe for great festive family viewing.

Arthur Christmas


With its cast of British comedy stalwarts – ranging from up-and-comers like Ashley Jensen to full-blow comedy legends like Jim Broadbent and Michael Palin –sprinkled with American stars like Laura Linney and Eva Longoria, the anglo-american children's comedy Arthur Christmas was always going to be good.

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Starring James McAvoy as the titular Arthur Christmas, the movie was rendered in 3D animation by UK production company Aardman. No stranger to festive hits, Aardman had already racked up awards for their Wallace and Gromit series of films.

The story concerns Santa Claus' feckless but well-meaning son who, on discovering that his father's sleigh has missed out one girl, endeavours to visit her and save her Christmas. It's a heart-warming tale with enough snappy dialogue to keep adults and kids enthralled for the full 100 minute runtime.

Comfort and Joy


Scottish director Bill Forsyth was riding high in 1984. The previous year his fourth movie release – Local Hero – had received almost universal acclaim, following up 1981's cult hit Gregory's Girl and cementing his position in the top drawer of British directorial talent.

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Time has maybe not been quite so kind to Forsyth's fifth film, Comfort and Joy, but his tail of a depressed Radio DJ (Bill Paterson) and a turf war between rival ice cream salesmen in Glasgow has enough charm and intrigue to make it an unsung Christmas classic.

Although aimed decidedly at a more grown-up audience than the other films on our list, the humour and content of Comfort and Joy is suitable for all ages.

Be sure to track down one of these unsung movie classics when you get tired of the endless re-runs this Christmas.
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Why? Because Christmas is best spent together
Your Comment
I LOVED Prancer when I was little!!!! I was just talking about this movie the other day. I have not seen it anywhere since I was about 10. I taped it off the TV and watched it over and over with my brother. Great movie.
by sar01 (score: 1|52) 1302 days ago
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