As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to cozy up with a blanket, some hot cocoa, and a good movie that encapsulates the spirit of Christmas. While there are those blockbuster hits that everyone talks about year after year, there’s a special charm in discovering films that haven’t made it to the mainstream festive radar.
These underrated Christmas movies provide a fresh perspective on holiday themes and offer a variety of tales that range from heartwarming to hilarious, and even the delightfully unconventional. In this article, we’ll unwrap the 21 most underrated Christmas movies of all time, giving you a curated list of hidden gem Christmas movies that deserve a spot on your holiday watch list.
From the enchanting shop clerks’ romance in The Shop Around the Corner to the fantastical twists of Klaus, these films are the unsung heroes of holiday cinema. They might not have the same notoriety as It’s a Wonderful Life or Home Alone, but they are just as capable of spreading cheer and reigniting the magic of the season.
So, let’s dim the lights, press play, and give these underrated Christmas movies the recognition they’ve been silently waiting for. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic black-and-white film, a quirky Xmas comedy, or an overlooked Christmas family drama, this list has something for everyone looking to expand their Christmas movie repertoire.
And if you have any you think we should add to this list, PLEASE sound off in the comments below!
1The Christmas Chronicles
Release Date: November 22, 2018
Director: Clay Kaytis
Starring: Kurt Russell, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis
You’re going to find a lot of Netflix Christmas movies on this list, because just being a Netflix movie automatically discredits the film somewhat in the mind of viewers.
The Christmas Chronicles is a Netflix original film released in 2018 that stars Kurt Russell as a modern, charismatic Santa Claus. The movie follows siblings Kate and Teddy Pierce, who hatch a plan to capture Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. When their plan goes awry, they join Santa on an adventure to save Christmas. The film combines elements of comedy, adventure, and family drama, offering a fresh take on the Santa Claus mythos. It also incorporates modern technology, with the kids initially trying to catch Santa using smartphones and other gadgets, making it relatable to a younger audience.
What sets The Christmas Chronicles apart is its attempt to modernize the character of Santa Claus. Kurt Russell’s portrayal is not that of a jolly old man but rather a cool, savvy, and somewhat rugged character who drives a sleigh like it’s a high-speed vehicle. The film also delves into the logistics of how Santa manages to deliver all those presents in one night, adding a layer of complexity to the age-old tale. It’s a fun, high-energy movie with enough twists and turns to keep both kids and adults engaged.
Despite its unique approach and high entertainment value, The Christmas Chronicles often gets overshadowed by more traditional holiday films and classics. It doesn’t have the nostalgia factor that many older Christmas movies have, which might explain why it’s not as popular as it could be. However, its modern take on the holiday season, combined with a strong performance by Kurt Russell, makes it deserving of more attention. It’s a film that can appeal to the whole family, offering a mix of humor, action, and heart. In a sea of Christmas movies that often recycle the same themes and characters, The Christmas Chronicles stands out as an underrated holiday gem that brings something new to the table.
2The Year Without a Santa Claus
Release Date: December 10, 1974
Director: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Starring: Shirley Booth, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn
The Year Without a Santa Claus is a stop-motion animated television special that originally aired in 1974. Based on Phyllis McGinley’s 1956 book of the same name, the film has become a cult classic over the years but doesn’t always get the mainstream attention it deserves. The story revolves around Santa Claus, who is feeling under the weather and decides to take a year off from his Christmas duties. Mrs. Claus and two elves, Jingle and Jangle, set out on a mission to find enough Christmas spirit to convince Santa to change his mind. Along the way, they encounter memorable characters like Snow Miser and Heat Miser, who control the world’s weather.
One of the reasons The Year Without a Santa Claus is considered underrated is that it often gets overshadowed by other holiday classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman. However, the film offers a unique take on the Santa Claus mythos, exploring what Christmas would be like without its most iconic figure. It also delves into themes of belief, hope, and the true meaning of the holiday season, making it a more nuanced story than one might initially think.
The film’s songs, particularly those featuring the Miser brothers, are catchy and have become iconic in their own right. The stop-motion animation, though dated by today’s standards, adds a nostalgic charm that many viewers appreciate. Moreover, the film’s focus on characters other than Santa allows for a deeper exploration of the holiday’s significance from multiple perspectives.
In a sea of Christmas movies that often retread the same ground, The Year Without a Santa Claus stands out for its originality, emotional depth, and memorable characters. It’s a film that deserves to be revisited and can offer something new upon each viewing, making it a truly underrated gem in the holiday movie landscape.
Release Date: June 8, 1984
Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton
Gremlins is a 1984 horror-comedy film directed by Joe Dante and produced by Steven Spielberg. The movie is set in the fictional town of Kingston Falls, where a young man named Billy receives a unique and exotic pet called a Mogwai as a Christmas gift. The Mogwai, named Gizmo, comes with three specific care instructions: don’t expose him to bright lights, don’t get him wet, and never feed him after midnight. As you might expect, these rules are inadvertently broken, leading to the spawning of mischievous and malevolent creatures known as Gremlins. These Gremlins wreak havoc on the town, turning what should be a joyful holiday season into a chaotic and dangerous period for the residents.
While Gremlins is often categorized as a horror-comedy, its Christmas setting makes it an unconventional holiday film. The movie uses the backdrop of the holiday season to amplify the contrast between the joyful festivities and the ensuing chaos caused by the Gremlins. This juxtaposition adds a layer of complexity to the film, making it more than just a creature-feature. The Christmas setting serves as a lens through which the film explores themes of consumerism, responsibility, and the unpredictability of life.
Despite its unique take on the holiday season and its cult following, Gremlins is often overlooked in discussions about classic Christmas movies. It doesn’t fit neatly into the traditional holiday film genre, which usually focuses on themes of love, family, and holiday spirit. Because of its darker elements, it’s not always the go-to choice for family Christmas movie nights, causing it to be underrated and underappreciated. However, for those willing to embrace its idiosyncrasies, Gremlins offers a refreshing break from the more saccharine fare that often dominates the holiday movie landscape. It’s a film that invites viewers to consider the complexities and contradictions that come with the holiday season, all while delivering laughs and scares in equal measure.
42009’s A Christmas Carol (The Jim Carrey One)
Release Date: November 6, 2009
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth
A Christmas Carol (2009) is a 3D animated film directed by Robert Zemeckis and featuring the voice talent of Jim Carrey in multiple roles, including Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts who visit him. The movie is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novella “A Christmas Carol,” which tells the story of Scrooge, a miserly old man who despises Christmas and everything associated with it. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by three spirits—the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come—who take him on a journey through time to show him the error of his ways. By the end of his spectral visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, more compassionate person who learns the true meaning of Christmas.
Despite its high-quality animation and a strong performance by Jim Carrey, A Christmas Carol (2009) often gets overshadowed by other holiday films and even other adaptations of the Dickens classic. One reason it’s underrated might be the darker tone and more serious approach, which could be less appealing to those looking for lighter holiday fare. However, this darker tone allows the film to delve deeper into the psychological transformation of Scrooge, making his eventual redemption all the more powerful. The 3D animation also allows for some visually stunning sequences that bring the 19th-century London setting to life in a way that most other adaptations can’t match.
The film also stays quite faithful to the source material, which will likely appeal to purists and fans of Dickens’ original story. Yet it also incorporates modern animation technology to create a visually striking experience. In a landscape of Christmas movies that often prioritize comedy and romance, A Christmas Carol (2009) offers a more thoughtful and visually captivating take on the meaning of the holiday season. For these reasons, it deserves a second look and a higher place in the pantheon of holiday films.
5Christmas with the Kranks
Release Date: November 15, 2004
Director: Joe Roth
Starring: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd
Christmas with the Kranks is a 2004 comedy film based on the 2001 novel Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. The movie stars Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis as Luther and Nora Krank, a couple who decide to “skip” Christmas for the first time in their lives. Their daughter Blair is away, and they see no reason to go through the usual holiday rituals and expenses. Instead, they plan to go on a Caribbean cruise. However, their decision doesn’t sit well with their Christmas-obsessed neighbors and community, leading to a series of comedic and heartwarming events. The Kranks are eventually forced to reevaluate what Christmas truly means to them, especially when their daughter decides to come home for the holidays at the last minute.
The film is often considered underrated for several reasons. First, it tackles the commercialization and societal pressures associated with the holiday season, a theme that resonates with many viewers but is rarely the focus of Christmas movies. It’s a comedic take on how far people will go to conform to societal norms, even when it doesn’t make them happy. Second, the performances by Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis bring a lot of heart and humor to the story, making the characters relatable and endearing. Lastly, while the film does indulge in some slapstick and over-the-top scenarios, at its core, it’s a story about family, community, and the spirit of giving—themes that are integral to the holiday season but are presented here with a unique twist.
In a landscape filled with traditional Christmas movies, Christmas with the Kranks offers a different perspective on what the holiday season can mean. It’s a film that doesn’t get as much attention as holiday blockbusters like Home Alone or Elf, but it’s a hidden gem that offers both laughs and a meaningful message.
6Jingle All the Way
Release Date: November 16, 1996
Director: Brian Levant
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman
Jingle All the Way is a 1996 family comedy film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad. The movie revolves around Howard Langston, played by Schwarzenegger, a workaholic father who has neglected to spend time with his family. Realizing he has forgotten to buy his son the Turbo-Man action figure he desperately wants for Christmas, Howard embarks on a frantic, last-minute shopping spree on Christmas Eve. Along the way, he encounters Myron Larabee, played by Sinbad, a postal worker who is also in search of the elusive Turbo-Man toy for his own child. The two engage in a series of comedic and increasingly outrageous battles to secure the last available Turbo-Man in town. The movie culminates in a wild and wacky Christmas parade where Howard, dressed as Turbo-Man, must save the day.
While Jingle All the Way was met with mixed reviews upon its release and is often criticized for its commercialism and slapstick humor, it has gained a cult following over the years and is considered by many to be an underrated Christmas classic. One reason for its underrated status is that it taps into the holiday shopping frenzy that many people experience, making it relatable on some level to anyone who has ever had to hunt for that “must-have” gift. The film also offers a satirical take on the commercialization of Christmas, providing a comedic lens through which to examine the lengths people will go to in order to secure the perfect gift. Additionally, Schwarzenegger’s performance is charmingly out of character, offering a different side of the action star that audiences hadn’t seen much of at the time.
In a landscape filled with traditional Christmas movies that focus on the sentimental and heartwarming aspects of the holiday, Jingle All the Way stands out for its willingness to explore the more chaotic and stressful side of the season. Its over-the-top antics and memorable one-liners make it a unique addition to the holiday film canon, and for those who appreciate its particular brand of humor, it’s a movie that deserves to be revisited during the Christmas season.
Release Date: November 8, 2019
Director: Sergio Pablos
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones
Klaus is a 2019 animated Netflix Christmas movie directed by Sergio Pablos in his directorial debut. The movie serves as an alternative origin story for Santa Claus, focusing on a young, selfish postman named Jesper who is stationed in the remote, desolate town of Smeerensburg. Jesper is initially only interested in fulfilling a mail quota to return to his luxurious life, but his interactions with a reclusive carpenter named Klaus change the course of his life and the spirit of the community. Together, they start a tradition of gift-giving that transforms not just the town but also themselves. The film features a unique animation style that combines traditional hand-drawn techniques with modern technology, creating a visually stunning experience.
Despite its critical acclaim, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature, Klaus often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves when compared to other holiday classics. One reason it’s considered underrated is that it was released directly on Netflix, which means it didn’t have the traditional theatrical run that often contributes to a film’s long-lasting legacy. Moreover, it doesn’t fit the mold of what many consider a “traditional” Christmas movie; it takes creative liberties with the Santa Claus mythos and introduces a darker, more complex world than is typically seen in holiday films.
These very factors contribute to its charm and make it a standout. Its unique take on the origin of Santa Claus is both refreshing and emotionally resonant, offering a story of redemption, friendship, and the transformative power of kindness. The film also appeals to both children and adults, making it a great option for family viewing. In a sea of Christmas movies that often recycle the same themes and tropes, Klaus offers something genuinely original and heartfelt. It’s a modern classic in the making, and for those who discover it, it’s likely to become a staple of their holiday movie rotation.
Release Date: December 5, 1998
Director: Troy Miller
Starring: Michael Keaton, Steve Bloom, Jonathan Roberts
Jack Frost (1998) is a family-friendly fantasy film that stars Michael Keaton as Jack Frost, a musician who is often too busy with his career to spend time with his family. Tragically, Jack dies in a car accident but is magically brought back to life as a snowman. Now, as a living snowman, he has a second chance to be a father to his son, Charlie, and make amends for the time lost. Kelly Preston plays Gabby Frost, Jack’s widow, who is left to pick up the pieces after her husband’s untimely death. The film explores themes of family, love, and the importance of cherishing every moment with your loved ones.
The movie is often dismissed as a cheesy or overly sentimental holiday film, but it has several redeeming qualities that make it an underrated gem. First, Michael Keaton’s performance as Jack Frost is both heartfelt and compelling. He brings a level of sincerity to the role that elevates the entire film. The special effects, while dated, have a certain nostalgic charm that captures the magic and wonder of the holiday season. The film also tackles complex emotional themes, such as grief and redemption, in a way that’s accessible for younger viewers.
Moreover, the movie’s original songs, composed by Trevor Rabin, add an extra layer of emotional depth. The soundtrack complements the narrative beautifully and helps to create a warm, festive atmosphere. While Jack Frost may not be a cinematic masterpiece, it’s a touching story that resonates with audiences who are looking for more than just holiday fluff. Its earnestness and emotional depth make it deserving of a second look, especially for families seeking to experience the full range of emotions that the holiday season can bring.
9Better Watch Out
Release Date: September 22, 2016
Director: Chris Peckover
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould
Better Watch Out is a Christmas-themed horror-thriller that takes the home invasion subgenre and turns it on its head. Set during the holiday season, the film follows Ashley, a babysitter who is looking after 12-year-old Luke and his friend Garrett. The evening starts off like any other babysitting gig, complete with pizza and a Christmas movie. However, things take a dark turn when intruders break into the house. Without giving away too much, let’s just say that the film cleverly subverts expectations, leading to a series of shocking twists that keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
What sets Better Watch Out apart from other holiday films is its willingness to explore the darker aspects of human nature, all while maintaining a Christmas backdrop. The movie uses the holiday setting to heighten the tension, contrasting the cheerful decorations and festive atmosphere with the unfolding horror. It’s a film that plays with your expectations, making you question who the real villains are. The performances, particularly from the young cast, are compelling, adding layers of complexity to the characters.
Despite its merits, Better Watch Out often flies under the radar, overshadowed by more mainstream Christmas movies and horror films. It’s not your typical feel-good holiday fare, which might explain why it hasn’t received as much attention as other Christmas classics. However, for those willing to venture outside the traditional holiday movie canon, it offers a fresh and unsettling take on familiar themes. Its unique blend of horror and holiday elements, along with its unexpected plot twists, make it a film that’s well worth watching for those in search of something different this Christmas season.
Better Watch Out is just one of the many Christmas movies on Peacock that you can watch.
10The Snowman (David Bowie)
Release Date: December 15, 1984
Director: Jimmy T. Murakami, Dianne Jackson
Starring: David Bowie, Raymond Briggs, Mel Smith
The Snowman is a British animated television special based on the 1978 children’s book of the same name by Raymond Briggs. The story is a simple yet enchanting tale of a young boy who builds a snowman that comes to life. Together, they embark on a magical journey to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. The film is unique in its storytelling approach, as it is almost entirely without dialogue, relying instead on its emotive score and beautiful hand-drawn animation to convey the narrative. The most famous piece of music from the film is “Walking in the Air,” which has since become a Christmas classic in its own right.
Despite its critical acclaim and a loyal fan base, David Bowie’s The Snowman often gets overshadowed by more commercial and star-studded Christmas films. One reason it’s considered underrated is its quiet, contemplative nature, which stands in stark contrast to the often loud and frenetic pace of other holiday movies. Its lack of dialogue might make it less accessible to some viewers, but it also gives the film a timeless, universal quality that transcends language and culture. The film’s nuanced exploration of themes like the impermanence of life and the magic of childhood make it a deeply emotional experience, even for adults.
Another reason The Snowman is underrated is that it doesn’t fit neatly into the typical Christmas movie mold. It lacks the grandiose conflict or dramatic climax that many holiday films possess. Instead, it offers a poetic meditation on the beauty and ephemerality of life, themes that are often overlooked during the holiday season but are integral to the human experience.
In a landscape filled with Christmas movies that often prioritize commercial appeal over artistic integrity, The Snowman stands as a poignant reminder of the simple joys and sorrows that make the holiday season so meaningful. It’s a film that deserves to be revisited and cherished, not just as a Christmas special, but as a work of art that speaks to the heart.
11The Night Before
Release Date: November 20, 2015
Director: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogan, Jillian Bell
The Night Before is a comedy film released in 2015, starring Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie. The movie revolves around three childhood friends—Ethan, Isaac, and Chris—who have an annual tradition of going out on Christmas Eve. The tradition started as a way to support Ethan after the death of his parents, but as the friends grow older and take on adult responsibilities, they decide to make their upcoming Christmas Eve outing their last hurrah. The film is a wild ride through New York City as the trio embarks on a quest to find the “Nutcracka Ball,” the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.
What makes The Night Before an underrated Christmas movie is its unique blend of humor, heart, and holiday spirit. While it might not be a traditional Christmas movie in the vein of It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol, it offers a fresh perspective on the holiday season, focusing on friendship and the transition to adulthood. The film doesn’t shy away from the complexities and challenges that come with growing up, such as dealing with family expectations, impending parenthood, and the fear of losing touch with friends. Yet, it manages to tackle these themes while maintaining a lighthearted tone and delivering plenty of laughs.
Another reason why The Night Before is underrated is that it successfully incorporates elements of other genres, like buddy comedies and adventure films, into the Christmas movie formula. This makes it appealing to a broader audience, not just those who are fans of holiday films. The movie also features a number of hilarious cameos and has a soundtrack that perfectly complements its festive yet irreverent atmosphere.
In a landscape filled with traditional holiday movies, The Night Before stands out for its originality and willingness to explore the less-than-picture-perfect aspects of the holiday season. It’s a film that deserves more attention for offering a different, yet still heartfelt, take on the meaning and celebration of Christmas.
Release Date: November 20, 2008
Director: Seth Gordon
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, Mary Steenburgen
Four Christmases is a 2008 Christmas romantic comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn. The film revolves around a couple, Kate and Brad, who usually escape family gatherings during the holidays by going on exotic vacations. However, when their flight is canceled due to fog, they’re forced to spend Christmas visiting all four of their divorced parents. Each household presents its own set of challenges and comedic situations, from overbearing mothers to competitive siblings. As they navigate these tricky family dynamics, Kate and Brad also confront issues in their own relationship, leading to both humorous and heartfelt moments.
The holiday movie is often considered underrated for several reasons. First, it offers a fresh take on the holiday movie genre by focusing on the complexities of modern family structures, something that many people can relate to but is rarely the central theme in Christmas movies. It doesn’t shy away from showing the stressful and sometimes absurd aspects of family gatherings, making it more relatable for audiences who find the holidays to be a mixed bag of emotions.
Second, the chemistry between Witherspoon and Vaughn adds a layer of authenticity to the story. Their comedic timing is impeccable, and they manage to portray a couple who love each other but are also grappling with real issues. This makes the film not just a holiday movie, but also a relationship movie that happens to be set during Christmas.
Lastly, Four Christmases doesn’t get as much attention as other holiday films because it doesn’t fit neatly into the traditional Christmas movie mold. It’s not a magical tale like Elf, nor is it a heartwarming family story like It’s a Wonderful Life. Instead, it’s a modern, somewhat cynical, yet ultimately uplifting look at how the holiday season can be a catalyst for personal growth and relationship development. For those who are looking for something a bit different from the usual holiday fare, Four Christmases is definitely worth a watch.
Release Date: November 3, 2007
Director: David Dobkin
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks
Fred Claus is another Christmas comedy movie that stars Vince Vaughn, this time as Fred, the older and less-famous brother of Santa Claus, played by Paul Giamatti. The film delves into the dynamics of sibling rivalry set against the backdrop of the North Pole, a setting that’s usually portrayed as idyllic and problem-free. Fred is the polar opposite of his jolly and generous brother; he’s cynical, self-centered, and has capitalized on his brother’s fame in less-than-honorable ways. After getting into legal trouble, Fred turns to Santa for help, and in return, he has to work off his debt by helping out at Santa’s workshop. The film also features a host of other stars, including Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, and Kevin Spacey, who add depth and humor to the story.
The movie offers a unique twist on the traditional Christmas tale by focusing on a character who is not only skeptical about the holiday spirit but is also envious of it. It explores themes of family, forgiveness, and personal growth, all wrapped up in a comedic package. The humor is a blend of slapstick, situational comedy, and clever dialogue, making it appealing to both kids and adults.
Fred Claus is often considered underrated because it doesn’t fit the mold of a typical Christmas movie. While it has all the trappings of a holiday film—Santa’s workshop, elves, and the act of gift-giving—it also delves into more complex emotional territory. It’s not just about the magic of Christmas; it’s about the very real and often complicated relationships that come into focus during the holiday season. The film also takes risks in its storytelling, opting for a less saccharine and more nuanced portrayal of its characters, which may be why it doesn’t get as much attention as more traditional Christmas movies. However, for those willing to look beyond the conventional, Fred Claus offers a refreshing and entertaining take on the holiday genre.
Release Date: August 31, 2023
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa
The Holdovers is a hidden gem in the realm of Christmas movies. The holiday flick revolves around a group of high school friends who, due to various circumstances, find themselves stuck in their small hometown over the Christmas holidays. While initially disappointed about missing out on grander plans, they decide to make the most of their situation by revisiting old traditions and creating new ones. As they navigate the complexities of family, friendship, and love during the holiday season, they come to realize that sometimes the best Christmas experiences are the unplanned ones, right where you started.
What sets The Holdovers apart is its authentic portrayal of the holiday season, devoid of the overly sentimental or fantastical elements that often dominate Christmas movies. It doesn’t shy away from the challenges and disappointments that can accompany the holidays, making it relatable to a broad audience. The film also boasts a well-rounded cast of characters, each with their own arcs and resolutions, making it a compelling watch from start to finish.
Despite its many merits, The Holdovers will likely get overlooked in favor of more mainstream or traditional Christmas films. Perhaps it’s the lack of big-name stars or the absence of a high-stakes, magical plot that causes it to fly under the radar. However, those who do stumble upon this movie find it to be a refreshing change, praising its nuanced storytelling and emotional depth. It’s a film that deserves to be on more “must-watch” lists, offering a more grounded and heartfelt take on the meaning of Christmas.
15Office Christmas Party
Release Date: November 3, 2007
Director: David Dobkin
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks
Office Christmas Party is a 2016 comedy film that dives into the chaotic world of corporate America during the holiday season. The movie stars an ensemble cast including Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, and Jennifer Aniston. The plot centers around a branch office that is on the verge of being shut down by the company’s no-nonsense CEO, played by Aniston. In a last-ditch effort to impress a potential client and save their jobs, the employees decide to throw an epic Christmas party. As one can imagine, the party quickly spirals out of control, leading to a series of hilarious and outrageous events.
While the film may not be a traditional Christmas movie filled with heartwarming lessons and family values, it offers a different kind of holiday cheer. It’s a wild, raucous ride that captures the stress, absurdity, and unexpected joys of working life during the holiday season. The movie serves as a comedic reflection of how office dynamics can be both a source of frustration and unexpected camaraderie, especially when the stakes are high.
The reason Office Christmas Party is often considered underrated is that it tends to be overshadowed by more traditional and family-oriented Christmas films. However, it offers a fresh perspective on the holiday season, focusing on adult relationships and the workplace rather than family gatherings and romantic subplots. Its humor is edgy, and it doesn’t shy away from showing the less-than-perfect aspects of the holiday season, which many can find relatable. For those who are looking for a break from the usual holiday fare and want to enjoy some irreverent comedy, this movie is a hidden gem.
Release Date: November 7, 2019
Director: Paul Fiege
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Emma Thompson, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh
Last Christmas is a festive romantic comedy that was released in 2019, directed by Paul Feig and written by Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings. The film stars Emilia Clarke as Kate, a young woman who, after having suffered a serious illness, finds herself working as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop in London. Her life takes a turn when she meets Tom, played by Henry Golding, a charming and mysterious man who helps her find more to her life than she ever expected.
The plot of Last Christmas unfolds as Kate, who has been continuously unlucky and often makes poor decisions, begins to experience a series of small miracles and changes that seem to coincide with Tom’s appearance in her life. The movie is infused with the music of George Michael, including the titular song, which not only provides a nostalgic backdrop but also ties into the film’s themes of healing and second chances.
Last Christmas is considered underrated by many because it was met with mixed reviews upon release and may have been overshadowed by more prominent holiday blockbusters. However, it has since gained a following who appreciate its blend of heartwarming and bittersweet moments, its subversion of typical romantic comedy tropes, and its deeper messages about the importance of kindness, compassion, and the capacity for personal growth. The film’s setting in London during the most festive time of the year adds a magical quality that complements the story’s sentimentality and the charm of its lead actors. Despite its initial reception, Last Christmas offers a unique take on the holiday movie genre, making it a worthy addition to any list of underrated Christmas movies.
17A Bad Moms Christmas
Release Date: November 1, 2017
Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn
A Bad Moms Christmas is a festive comedy that serves as a sequel to the film Bad Moms. It follows the three under-appreciated and over-burdened women as they confront the challenges of the holiday season. Amy, Kiki, and Carla, the titular “bad moms,” rebel against the expectations of Christmas in regards to making it perfect for their families. The film amplifies the comedic elements when the trio’s own mothers drop in unexpectedly, adding another layer of stress and family dynamics to the holiday chaos.
The film dives into the often-unspoken reality of holiday pressures and the pursuit of the “perfect” Christmas, which can lead to a comedic yet relatable portrayal of maternal burnout. It’s a humorous take on the lengths to which mothers often go to ensure their families enjoy the holidays, despite the toll it takes on their own well-being.
A Bad Moms Christmas is considered underrated by many because it doesn’t shy away from the messier, more chaotic aspects of the holiday season that other Christmas movies often gloss over in favor of more idyllic portrayals. The film’s raw and humorous take on the imperfections of family life during the holidays resonates with audiences who find the polished narratives of traditional Christmas films a bit out of touch with their own experiences.
Moreover, the movie’s focus on the mother-daughter relationship is a narrative that’s not commonly explored in holiday films, which often center on romantic or child-focused stories. This unique angle, combined with the chemistry among the star-studded cast, offers a refreshing change of pace from the typical holiday fare. Despite its comedic approach, A Bad Moms Christmas delivers heartfelt moments, making it a multifaceted film that deserves more recognition as a Christmas movie that both entertains and relates to the holiday hustle in a very real way.
18Deck the Halls (2006)
Release Date: November 22, 2006
Director: John Whitesell
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Danny DeVito, Kristen Chenoweth
Deck the Halls (2006) is a festive comedy that delves into the competitive nature of holiday decorations and the sometimes absurd lengths to which people will go to claim the title of having the best-decorated home. The film stars Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick as neighbors in a small town. DeVito’s character, Buddy Hall, is new to the neighborhood and has an extravagant goal: to make his house visible from space using an excessive display of Christmas lights. Broderick’s character, Steve Finch, is the town’s Christmas enthusiast and “go-to guy” for the holidays, but he finds his title threatened by Buddy’s over-the-top plans.
The movie is a lighthearted take on the holiday spirit and the modern-day spectacle that Christmas has become for some. It explores themes of rivalry, community, and family through the comedic lens of one-upmanship in holiday décor. While Deck the Halls received mixed reviews from critics upon its release and is often criticized for its slapstick humor and predictable plot, it has since found a niche audience who appreciate its cheerful gaudiness and the heartwarming message beneath the bright lights.
Deck the Halls is considered underrated by its fans because it encapsulates a certain kind of holiday madness that is both relatable and entertaining. The film doesn’t shy away from portraying the sometimes chaotic and commercial side of Christmas, but it also doesn’t forget the core values of love, family, and neighborly connection. For many, it’s a guilty pleasure that has become a part of their holiday viewing tradition, appreciated for its ability to elicit laughs and embody a more modern, if exaggerated, version of holiday cheer.
19Anna and the Apocalypse
Release Date: September 22, 2017
Director: John McPhail
Starring: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire
It’s a zombie Christmas musical.
Anna and the Apocalypse is a unique blend of Christmas cheer, teenage angst, and apocalyptic survival, all wrapped up in a musical. The story unfolds in the sleepy town of Little Haven, where Anna, a high school student, is dealing with typical adolescent issues. However, her world is turned upside down when a zombie apocalypse threatens her town right at Christmas time.
What makes Anna and the Apocalypse stand out is its genre-bending approach. It’s not often that you see yuletide joy mixed with the undead, let alone characters breaking into song amidst the chaos. The film combines the warmth of holiday themes with the thrill of horror and the charm of a musical, creating a movie experience that’s as surprising as it is entertaining.
Despite its originality and the fresh take on saturated genres, Anna and the Apocalypse is often overlooked during the holiday season. It’s a film that deserves more recognition for its creativity and its ability to juggle different tones seamlessly. The movie’s under-the-radar status might be due to its unconventional mix, which might not resonate with traditionalists looking for the usual Christmas movie tropes. However, for those willing to give it a chance, Anna and the Apocalypse offers a spirited and offbeat alternative to the standard holiday fare, making it a true hidden gem in the Christmas movie canon.
20I’ll Be Home For Christmas
Release Date: November 13, 1998
Director: Arlene Sanford
Starring: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jessica Biel, Adam LaVorgna
I’ll Be Home for Christmas is a 1998 Christmas family comedy film that stars Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Jake Wilkinson, a college student who is estranged from his father. The story kicks off when Jake’s father offers him a vintage Porsche if he makes it home for Christmas dinner by 6:00 PM. This sets Jake on a cross-country journey from California to New York, filled with various misadventures and comedic situations. Along the way, he learns the true meaning of Christmas as he encounters a series of challenges that test his character and resolve.
The film weaves together the themes of family reconciliation, the spirit of giving, and the personal growth that often accompanies a journey back home. Despite its heartwarming message and holiday cheer, I’ll Be Home for Christmas didn’t make a significant impact upon its release and has often been overshadowed by more prominent holiday blockbusters of its time and genre.
However, it’s considered underrated by many because it encapsulates the 90s era charm and offers a nostalgic trip for those who grew up during that period. The movie also provides a different take on the holiday genre by focusing on a young adult character rather than centering on a child or an entire family, which is more common in Christmas films. Its humor, while perhaps not groundbreaking, is gentle and family-friendly, and the film’s road trip narrative sets it apart from the typical Christmas setting. Over the years, I’ll Be Home for Christmas has gained a cult following and is appreciated for its unique qualities by a growing number of fans who enjoy its blend of humor, holiday sentiment, and a dash of 90s nostalgia.
21A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
Release Date: November 4, 2011
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Starring: Kal Penn, John Cho, Neil Patrick Harris
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is the third installment in the Harold & Kumar series, and it presents a raucous and irreverent take on holiday films. The story picks up a few years after the duo’s Guantanamo Bay adventure, finding Harold and Kumar estranged from one another and leading very different lives. The holiday season acts as a backdrop to their unexpected reunion when Kumar arrives at Harold’s doorstep with a mysterious package in hand, which inadvertently sets off a chain reaction that destroys Harold’s father-in-law’s prized Christmas tree. What follows is a wild journey through New York City as the pair search for the perfect replacement tree, encountering a series of bizarre and over-the-top obstacles along the way.
The film is a blend of stoner comedy, holiday cheer, and 3D spectacle, with a heartwarming undercurrent about friendship and growing up. Despite its festive setting and Christmas spirit, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is often underrated because it deviates from the traditional holiday movie formula. It’s not just about the humor; the film also touches on the themes of reconciliation, the pressures of family expectations, and the passage of time, which adds depth to the otherwise zany plot.
Its underrated status may also stem from its R-rated content, which includes crude humor and drug use, making it less family-friendly than the typical holiday fare. However, for fans of the series and viewers looking for a Christmas movie that breaks the mold, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas offers a refreshing change of pace. It’s a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, invites the audience to laugh along with (and at) its protagonists, and ultimately delivers a unique brand of holiday cheer that’s as heartfelt as it is humorous. As far as R-Rated Christmas movies go, you can’t go wrong with A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas.
Release Date: December 21, 1994
Director: Nora Ephron
Starring: Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Robert Klein, Adam Sandler
Mixed Nuts is a black comedy film directed by Nora Ephron, which was released in 1994. The film features an ensemble cast including Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Rita Wilson, and Adam Sandler, among others. It’s set on Christmas Eve and revolves around the employees of a crisis hotline service in Venice Beach, California. The plot weaves together the lives of various quirky characters as they navigate the stresses of the holiday season, deal with personal crises, and interact in a series of comedic and often absurd events.
The film is a remake of the French comedy Le Père Noël est une ordure and attempts to blend dark humor with the warmth and sentimentality of the season. Despite its stellar cast and the pedigree of its director, Mixed Nuts was not a critical or commercial success at the time of its release. It has since gained a cult following, with fans appreciating its offbeat humor and the performances of its cast.
Mixed Nuts is considered underrated for several reasons. Firstly, its humor was perhaps ahead of its time, featuring a darkly comedic tone that wasn’t widely appreciated in the early ’90s. Additionally, the film’s portrayal of characters dealing with loneliness and despair during the holidays offers a counterpoint to the typically cheerful Christmas movie fare, which may resonate more with audiences today. Its status as an underrated film may also stem from the fact that it was panned by critics upon release, which may have discouraged initial audiences but has since been re-evaluated by those looking for non-traditional holiday films that eschew the usual tropes for something more unconventional and satirical.
Release Date: August 30, 2003
Director: Satoshi Kon
Starring: Tôru Emori, Yoshiaki Umegaki, Aya Okamoto
Tokyo Godfathers is a unique gem in the realm of Christmas movies, blending the spirit of the holiday with an unconventional narrative and anime tropes. Directed by the acclaimed Satoshi Kon, this Japanese animated film tells the story of three homeless people in Tokyo – an alcoholic man, a former drag queen, and a runaway girl. On Christmas Eve, they find an abandoned newborn while rummaging through the trash. The trio embarks on a quest to find the baby’s parents, leading them through a series of touching and sometimes comical events that intertwine their fates with strangers across the city.
What makes Tokyo Godfathers an underrated Christmas movie is its departure from the traditional holiday film tropes. It doesn’t take place in a snowy small town or revolve around a family gathering. Instead, it offers a raw and poignant look at the lives of those on the margins of society, all while maintaining a heartwarming holiday undertone. The film explores themes of family, redemption, and miracles, which are staples of the Christmas genre, but it does so through a lens that is rarely used in holiday storytelling.
The beauty of Tokyo Godfathers lies in its ability to balance the harsh realities of its characters with the magic of Christmas. The holiday serves as a backdrop to a story about finding hope and humanity in the least expected places. It’s a Christmas movie that doesn’t rely on the usual yuletide cheer to convey its message, which may be why it doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves during the holiday season. However, for those looking for a Christmas story with depth, character development, and a fresh perspective, Tokyo Godfathers is a true standout that merits a spot on any list of underrated holiday films.
24The Shop Around the Corner
Release Date: January 12, 1940
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Starring: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan
The Shop Around the Corner is an enchanting romantic comedy that has gracefully stood the test of time, yet it doesn’t always make it to the top of popular Christmas movie lists, which arguably makes it underrated. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch and released in 1940, the film is set in Budapest, primarily in a small gift shop owned by the curmudgeonly Mr. Matuschek. The story revolves around two employees, Alfred Kralik (played by James Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan), who, despite being at odds with each other at work, are unknowingly falling in love as anonymous pen pals through a series of heartfelt letters.
The film’s Christmas setting is more than just a backdrop; it’s integral to the plot and the development of its characters. The holiday season amplifies the emotional stakes as the characters navigate their misunderstandings and discover true feelings, leading to a heartwarming climax that embodies the spirit of Christmas—forgiveness, joy, and love.
The Shop Around the Corner is considered underrated because it often gets overshadowed by its more colorful and grandiose counterparts. It’s a quieter, more character-driven piece that doesn’t rely on the usual Christmas tropes of Santa Claus, extravagant decorations, or holiday miracles. Instead, it offers a slice of life that resonates with the everyday experiences of its audience, making it a subtle yet powerful film. Its influence is significant, having inspired future works like You’ve Got Mail (1998), but it remains a hidden gem during the holiday season, waiting to be rediscovered by lovers of classic cinema and heartfelt storytelling. The film’s understated charm and the poignant performances by Stewart and Sullavan make it a classic that deserves a spot on any list of Christmas movies, especially for those looking to step away from the mainstream and into the cozy, snow-dusted streets of Budapest where romance and holiday spirit quietly blossom.