Otters, Eloise and Pee-wee
There is no shortage of great holiday movies out there. You’ve got your classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Elf, The Polar Express, etc. But, do you ever yearn to find a new holiday favorite? Well, never fear because there’s plenty of content out there. Here are some of my favorite underrated Christmas movies.
Eloise at Christmastime
This is a staple of the holiday season in my family. Based on the beloved children’s book series Eloise at the Plaza, the film follows 6-year-old Eloise’s reckless journey to play cupid for her favorite hotel server and his childhood sweetheart who just returned home with a sleazy new guy. There is so much festive goodness packed into this movie between all of Eloise’s antics. You have Julie Andrews who plays the nanny belting Christmas carols into a tube of wrapping paper, all the glitz and glamour of Christmastime at the Plaza and Broadway star Gavin Creel stealing hearts with his piano and singing skills around every corner. It is so much fun, and I can’t imagine the holiday season without watching this one at least twice.
Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas
This television special was created by the Jim Henson Company one year before they embarked on the classic hit The Muppet Movie. Based on the children’s book by Russell Hoban, this movie follows young Emmet Otter, a poor otter from the small Frogtown Hollow. He and his Ma are struggling to make ends meet before the holidays, and a cash prize at the town talent show offers a chance to grant each other a perfect Christmas present. This holiday special also includes a bunch of fun and catchy songs by the great Paul Williams of “Rainbow Connection” fame. Jim Henson really started to experiment with different methods of puppeteering in this, and it paved the way for everything The Henson Company did after that. If you’re a fan of The Muppet Christmas Carol, you’ll definitely want to watch this one.
Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special
Fans of weirdness and camp rejoice. Paul Reuben’s kooky character’s 1988 Christmas special is available on Netflix. This is my personal favorite of all celebrity Christmas specials out there because it is so unapologetically Pee-wee. Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon act as Pee-wee’s personal Christmas assistants, Grace Jones is mailed to the Playhouse, Little Richard gets an ice skating lesson and so many more celebrities appear. Some of the guests flourish in Pee-wee’s wacky environment, and some stick out like a sore thumb, which only adds to the fun of it all. If you’re a fan of the original Pee-wee’s Playhouse or you’re just in need of some good old fashioned ’80s nostalgia, this one is definitely for you.
Call Me Claus
Call Me Claus may be the most underrated of all on this list. Anytime I bring this up, it’s rare that anyone has heard of it. Whoopi Goldberg stars as a grouchy TV shopping network executive who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. Turns out, Santa Claus needs to stop the end of the world, and only Whoopi can help. He ends up auditioning to be the Santa for a Christmas shopping show to get into her good graces and things progress from there. This movie has a ridiculous script that only Whoopi Goldberg could add heart and spirit to, and it makes for a whirlwind adventure for the whole family.
What if you don’t have any kids running around your house, but you’re still desperate for some holiday entertainment? Love Actually is the answer. Not enough people give this movie credit for being a great Christmas movie. It centers around a swath of different love stories that begin to intertwine, but it adds in festive cheer because it all takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas. While it definitely is a good Christmas movie, it doesn’t beat you over the head with holiday cheer. It focuses more on all the different aspects of the blossoming (and crumbling) relationships as the holiday season blares on in the background. It’s a holiday film for those who are tired of hearing about Rudolph and Santa Claus.