Christmas Streaming Must-Sees (and Must-Skips) in December 2023

Tim Allen is back for more festive goodness, but the same can't be said for Jennifer Garner's return to the body-swap genre

Photo: Elizabeth Morris / Netflix

BY Rachel HoPublished Dec 15, 2023

It's the most wonderful time of the year! We've officially landed in "Let's circle back in the new year" email territory, and, now more than ever, we need some movies and shows to get us to past the 2023 finish line.

Of course there's classic holiday fare like It's A Wonderful Life (available on Hoopla), nostalgia-warming retro flicks (Disney+ houses Home Alone) or the unconventional "Christmas movie" option — I'm an L.A. Confidential gal myself (on Netflix and Disney+). For those wondering, Die Hard is also on Disney+.

But, as always, there's new holiday films for families young and old to dive into this season. Tim Allen, Little Batman and a Wimpy Kid all bring their festive A-game, while Eddie Murphy and Tracee Ellis Ross limp towards an adequate Christmas offering.

Whatever you celebrate, pour some hot coco and kick up your feet — enjoy the holidays and be sure to read our past editions of Tune In or Turn Off here for more streaming hits and misses.

Turn Off: Best. Christmas. Ever!

Worst. Title. Ever! This Brandy Norwood, Jason Biggs and Heather Graham-led Christmas film about unrealistic expectations and self-destructive tendencies is exactly as predictable and corny as expected. Credit to Biggs in particular who does try his best with the material, but Best.Christmas.Ever! never tilts the scales towards mildly entertaining or sentimental. Instead, it remains content with rambling mediocrity that lives in a sterile environment — far from a winter wonderland.

Tune In: Candy Cane Lane
(Prime Video)

I can't wholly endorse Candy Cane Lane — the plot is weak and the graphics are, shall we say, odd. But when a film has comedy veterans like Eddie Murphy, Tracee Ellis Ross, Ken Marino and David Alan Grier together (not to mention more recent talents Jillian Bell and Timothy Simons) there will, at a minimum, be some amusement. Bellyaching laughter never happens, but Murphy and Ellis Ross have more than enough charisma to drive forward an aimless film. Not a bad choice to throw on when the weather outside is frightful.

Tune In: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever

Extolling the timeless holiday message of giving is better than receiving, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever has all the makings of a perfectly serviceable Christmas film for children. The animation, while not exactly inspired, looks fresh and just cute enough to complement Greg's youthful Yuletide mischief. There are worthwhile lessons to be gleaned and enough mayhem to be enjoyable on an otherwise silent night.

Turn Off: EXmas
(Prime Video)

The most Hallmark of Hallmark movies that isn't actually a Hallmark movie, EXmas has all the hallmarks of a sappy, cloying Christmas story: a workaholic who works over Christmas, unexpected hometown arrivals, the rekindling of former flames and the realization that everything a beautiful person could ever want was in front of them all along. (EXmas does go against the grain, though, with an unfortunate fringe for Leighton Marissa Meester.) It's lacklustre, awkwardly acted and poorly constructed; there's nothing wonderful about this Christmastime flick.

Turn Off: Family Switch

Tis the season for Jennifer Garner to revisit the body-swap genre; unfortunately for her (and us) Family Switch is bad going on terrible. Dragging Ed Helms along, Family Switch gets lost before it truly begins. The generational jokes land flat and the toilet gags stink, but the harshest indictment against this movie is just how dull and bland it is. If you watch this, it'd certainly be a blue Christmas.

Tune in: Merry Little Batman
(Prime Video)

Robin doesn't quite lay an egg but the Joker does get away, as per canon rules. Merry Little Batman follows Damian Wayne attempting to protect Wayne Manor and Gotham City after being left alone over Christmas when his dad, Bruce/Batman, gets stranded in a Nova Scotian blizzard. Full of whimsy and fun, this cartoon is light-hearted and a sheer delight — and there's already plans for a Bat Family show with Damian returning.

Tune In: The Santa Clauses, Season 2

Initially meant to be a limited series, Tim Allen returns once again as Saint Nick in the second season of the TV sequel to the third Santa Clause film. (Who knew The Santa Clause was such a media empire?) A series that carries its weight in nostalgia delivers on the festive cheer without losing itself amid a loose season arc. Santa Clause is back in town and giving audiences exactly what they're looking for.

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