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The 7 best Christmas movies on Disney+

The 7 best Christmas movies on Disney+

The Muppet’s Christmas Carol.
Photo: Disney

With an array of holiday movies from Old Hollywood staples to animated series slated across every streaming service, it can be hard to know where to start with your Christmas viewing options. Then there’s the question of whether you’re in the mood for raucous holiday humor or a family-friendly heartwarmer, a Christmas Day classic or a holiday movie favorite that isn’t technically a holiday movie. And do you want something as short as one The Simpsons episode or a movie with a lazy runtime to accompany your food coma? Disney+ has plenty of options for any curious viewer and a handful of rock-cold classics you may already be looking for to maximize your holiday cheer.

If you’re a millennial, there’s a good chance you grew up loving this 1993 Disney film with its broad comedy and catchy reggae-pop soundtrack. And ok, technically it’s not a Christmas movie, but it’s doubtful anyone will complain. The cult favorite ticks every other box for the holidays: a wintry, snowy climate; a supporting role for the wonderful John Candy; a joyful, uplifting story about (real) sports underdogs; and a song you’ll never forget, with the immortal and hard-to-argue-with lyrics “Jamaica, we have a bob team.”

With its snowy siren call, Frozen is hard to resist for the kids in any household, and the parents won’t mind: It’s the childhood equivalent of putting Xanax in the punch bowl. The beloved animated film featuring Olaf the talking snowman and fairy-tale ice princess Elsa has become a modern classic for its light-hearted humor and kind-hearted portrayal of sisterhood. And while there are plenty of spinoffs (all of which are also on Disney+), there’s nothing quite like the original. Just be warned: It may inspire (many, many) repeat viewings.

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Join Kevin McCallister (a towheaded Macaulay Culkin at his most precocious), who is accidentally left at home in his parents’ dream house in the ’90s – only to find his lawn is being invaded. Kevin remains one sly step (and stumble and fall and Looney Tunes injury) in front of Marv (Daniel Stern) and Harry (Joe Pesci), the boneheaded thugs who are trying to rob his house and ruin the family’s Christmas. Pesci, of course, is perfect as the feisty villain who takes so many hits you almost feel sorry for him. Home alone is so much of a Christmas tradition that it is now a must-see in December for many families. A return visit, not to mention a marathon through multiple sequels on Disney+, will soon remind you why.

With Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit and Michael Caine as an unforgettable Ebenezer Scrooge, The Muppet’s Christmas Carol may be one of the most endearing Christmas movies ever made. It’s also one of the most adorable Charles Dickens adaptations out there, avoiding the vague horror of the ghostly elements of the book’s other film versions. Always walking the line between the genuine pathos of the story and the inherent absurdity of these little dolls, The Muppet’s Christmas Carol is a genuinely heartwarming holiday affair with Caine giving every ounce of his very considerable acting talent to the effort without once seeming above the material. Just look at Muppet Tiny Tim: Little mini-Kermit is sure to make anyone melt.

For those of us who like our Christmas more on the goth side, Tim Burton’s introduction to the grisly, comically dying world of Jack Skellington, with all its stop-motion creepiness and cockeyed angles straight out of a 40s crime flick, is hard to deny. Burton, who has always been interested in the grim underside and darker corners of life, strikes a rich strain of cynicism about reckless consumerism and false good mood of the holidays. But we get to have our cake and eat it too: Sandy Claws finally teaches Jack and the citizens of Halloween Town the true meaning of Christmas as well, making for a happy ending. The ingenuity and rebellious spirit of The nightmare before Christmas making it a unique classic.

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Disney+ and its streaming lineup have always been a boon to ’90s nostalgia, so it’s only fitting that the 1994 Christmas hit Santa Claus is on duty. You probably know the story: Tim Allen is an ordinary suburban dad who accidentally kills Santa Claus when the big man falls from a roof. (Somehow, when you write it down, it doesn’t sound at all like the fun, cute bit of fluff that follows.) Forced to fill Santa’s boots and find himself suddenly, inexplicably obsessed with milk and crackers and with a face sprouting a full white beard and an expanding waistline to match, our confused protagonist stumbles into the role of Santa Claus and an inevitable happy, festive ending. This year, an all-new Disney+ original show, The Santa Clausessees Allen reprise the role over two decades later as his character sets out in search of the next lucky heir to the red and white suit.

As with so many of the best The Simpsons episodes, this one — in which Bart becomes the family pariah after stealing a video game, leading Marge to confront her disappointment in her son — mixes existential sentiment with dull comedy, resulting in a fun episode with a gooey center. In fact, it has been cited as one of the main inspirations for Bojack Rider. And while there have been plenty of good Christmas episodes of The Simpsons over its long duration (the very first episode had a Christmas setting!), this is without a doubt the most touching of all.

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