‘Netflix and Chill’ begins to mean something entirely different at this time of year. The holiday season is almost upon us, when the temperature drops and the whole family comes together, frantically searching for things to occupy themselves with in order to avoid actually talking to each other.
Alternatively, of course, for those of you lucky enough to be part of a family that actually enjoys spending time together, this is the perfect opportunity for some shared festive cheer.
Fortunately for both groups, Netflix is at hand. From heart-warming animations to questionable ‘holiday classics’, we give you a quick rundown of the films that might help to keep the kids entertained once they’ve tired of balancing various objects on a sleeping grandma.
So get the extra chairs out, pour everyone another glass of bubbly and secure your favourite spot on the sofa by any means necessary. Settle in for a bit of quality time with your nearest and dearest… by legitimately ignoring them for an hour or two.
There are two schools of thought about this movie. One is that it is a ‘holiday classic’, gleefully suggesting that love is, actually, everywhere… The other is that it is in fact a rather depressing depiction of relationships, which doesn’t really talk about love in any meaningful way, particularly from a female perspective. Either way, this is most definitely a Christmas film, and one in which Hugh Grant is impeccably British; something we can all enjoy.
“It’s not Christmas until I see Hans Grubber fall off the Nakatomi Plaza”, as the old meme goes. Unfortunately the only yippee-ki-yays on offer here are from the fifth and final film, which amongst other things is decidedly less festive. Still, Christmas is all about families bonding through adversity, so watching the McClanes battle through an extremely strained relationship whilst half of Moscow tries to blow them up, might put that argument with your uncle over the roast potatoes into a bit of perspective.
If you peel back the shiny wrapping and twirling ribbon surrounding the idea of Christmas, do you in fact expose an ugly, frantic, murky underbelly of insatiable consumerism? Brian Levant sort of tries to say as much here, but his film isn’t really clever or sweet enough to pull it off. If, however, you’re like me and will watch Arnold Schwarzenegger in almost anything then you might enjoy him in full comedy Arnie mode here.
Jim Carrey dazzles in what is a somewhat hit-and-miss retelling of the story of an outcast figure who hates Christmas and wants to ruin it for everyone else; much like the people responsible for Jingle All the Way. Although not a classic, it’s worth a watch for Carrey’s star turn and is good, clean family fun.
I don’t have children, largely because I like nice things that aren’t constantly covered in jam and Lego, but I’m confident the little tykes will absolutely love this film. Arthur embarks on a journey full of festive joy, slick animation and a smart enough storyline to keep the adults entertained without reaching for their thirteenth rum and eggnog of the afternoon.
The best film in this list by some distance is also one of the least Christmassy: Tim Burton is at his whimsical, bonkers best in this spooky Christmas/Halloween animation. The movie’s less obvious festive façade will appeal to adults and slightly older children alike.
Spent thousands of dollars on a brand new 4K and need something to really put it through its paces? Scroll no further; settle down in front of an hour’s worth of golden flames to enjoy all of the beauty and none of ashes of a genuine (televised) fire. Also comes in a Birchwood edition for the perfect holiday treat. I’m not making this up.
If you’re a fan of the Shrek franchise then this short festive return to Far Far Away Land might just jingle your bells. Lower on the smart humour of the excellent first two films, the only real chuckles to be found are from the slapstick set pieces, but with all the familiar characters and voices returning there is just enough impetus to keep you and the kids entertained for 20 minutes.
The penguins are the best characters in the Madagascar series – that much is obvious – and they appear here in one of three short films spanning 56 merry minutes. You’ll laugh at Rico’s dynamite gag at least once; your children will probably laugh at most of it.