In Review

Netflix UK: Five festive films for the Christmas holidays

From the classic adventures of Kevin McCallister to Bill Murray's cold-hearted TV executive Frank Cross

Arthur Christmas

Christmas is a time to eat, drink and be merry - and what better way to bring yourself some cheer than a movie from Christmas past? Here's our selection of festive fun from the Netflix catalogue.

Home Alone

Released in 1990, Home Alone is a definitive Christmas movie for children of the 1980s and 1990s. Macaulay Culkin plays Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old accidentally left at home when his large family goes on holiday for Christmas who must defend himself from two bungling burglars. One of the intruders - Harry Lime - is played by Joe Pesci, cast in the same year he immortalised murderous psychopath Tommy DeVito in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. Culkin, now 36, has never outgrown Kevin's shadow.

 Jingle All the Way

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a mattress salesman desperately trying to buy a must-have action figure toy for his neglected son but constantly thwarted by a policeman. What's not to like? Made in 1996, Jingle All the Way was criticised for mistaking mayhem for humour on its release but proved to have mass market appeal all the same. It co-stars Rita Wilson, Phil Hartman and the single-named comic Sinbad. While it could not be accused of subtlety, the film adopts a frenetic pace which will keep most viewers interested - and its schmaltzy ending has a pleasingly unsentimental punchline. Quest fulfilled, Arnie realises he has forgotten to get his daughter a present.

 All I Want For Christmas

An early vehicle for Thora Birch, who went on to star in American Beauty at the age of 17, All I Want for Christmas was released in 1991. Birch's character Hallie and her big brother, Ethan (Ethan Randall), ask Leslie Nielsen's Santa Claus to reunite their separated parents as a Christmas present. The children's wish is fulfilled - after some elaborate plotting and slapstick, of course. Perhaps not notable for its realism, the film has the warmth needed for a festive, family-friendly crowd-pleaser. The children's grandmother is played by screen icon Lauren Bacall, then 64.

Scrooged

Bill Murray stars as cold-hearted (and appropriately named) TV executive Frank Cross. If you hadn't guessed it from the title, Frank is about to learn the true meaning of Christmas after he forces his staff to work over the holiday on a live production of A Christmas Carol. Murray fans will love it - the comic features in almost every frame.

Arthur Christmas

Christmas is coming and at Santa's top-secret toy-making facility under the North Pole, the main man entrusts his son Arthur with a vital Christmas mission. This gem from Aardman Animations manages to address one of life's great unanswered questions - how does Santa deliver billions of presents across the world in just one night? - with the humour and wit we've come to expect from the creators of Wallace and Gromit. British acting stalwarts James McCoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy and Jim Broadbent lend their voices, alongside those of Joan Cusack and Eva Longoria. Something for the whole family.

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