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It is the Christmas season, which means it’s time to delve into the dregs of Christmas movies available to stream. Yes, at some point you’ll want to rewatch the classics like Elf, Christmas Vacation, Die Hard, and Home Alone. But those are the headliners. What about the filler? The background noise? The movies you could mock? It’s best to have an array of flavors when sampling the charcuterie of Christmas cinematic trash. You don’t want to overdo it on ‘Big City Gal goes back to her small hometown that inexplicably doesn’t have a Dollar Tree and falls for Generic Old Flame with Stubble.’ Small Town Country Hometown Christmas is good enough for three fine films, but it’s best to add in some variety into the Hallmark style offerings.

That’s why I’m going to help you decide which Time-Loop Christmas movie is right for you.

There are many sub genres, and sub-sub genres, within the Christmas movie smorgasbord. The Time-Loop genre is a surprisingly bountiful one. I’ve selected three to help ease you into the canon of those who saw Groundhog Day and thought, “What if I added wreaths?”

Option 1: 12 Dates of Christmas

Comforting Christmas Movie Clichés:

  • Character with a personality quirk that in real life would require therapy and an intervention
  • Unreasonable Christmas Eve Activities (going on a first date, putting up Christmas decorations, work party).

Plot: This movie stars Amy Smart and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, whose characters are going on a blind date on Christmas Eve, a very normal and unconcerning plan. Oh, and he’s coming over for Christmas Eve dinner at her parents’ house, which begs the question, why are they on a date when they’re going to hang out in the evening? Amy blows off Mark-Paul (probably not their characters’ actual names) mid-date to reconnect with her ex, which does not go as planned.

At the end of the day, Amy is transported back in time to the middle of the day, either because of a cursed gem in a brooch for sale on QVC or, more likely, because of head trauma she suffered while shopping at the mall, and this entire plot is a hallucination. As the title implies, the day repeats 12 times. Mark-Paul goes from being an asshole obsessed with lagers to a selfless youth hockey coach for foster kids. Amy meets a man who seems to be a cross between Nathan Lane and Rivers Cuomo who is also on a blind date at the same bar who may or may not also be reliving the same day. A doctor minimizes Amy’s very real medical concerns (typical, am I right, ladies?), but also tells her exactly how to get out of her time loop. In the end, it’s unclear what breaks the cycle. Is it helping a large enough number of people throughout the day? Is it just going on the date and not flaking out? No one knows, least of all the movie.

Recommended if you like…

90s/00s nostalgia with an aggressive pop soundtrack. ABC Family/Freeform originals. Christmas romances about single people.


Option 2: Christmas on Repeat

Comforting Christmas Movie Clichés:

  • Overworked career mom
  • Working on Christmas
  • Fake social media that doesn’t violate trademark laws (TipTop)
  • Expensive home with no decor that isn’t Christmas related
  • No vases, no family photos, no IKEA wall art—just blank walls with a few wreaths, like a family of serial killers


A mom who works in commercial production or something is pressed into working on Christmas Day by one of the Lawrence brothers. For some reason, a social media influencer has to record an ad for a cleaning product or else the funders will be mad. This is a common occurrence for the main character, and it’s putting a strain on her family—an inadvertent parable about late stage capitalism.

Working Mom runs into Santa ringing a bell outside of a grocery store. Except it’s really Santa. He says something cryptic, and later that night, Working Mom wishes to do the day over. So, thanks to the magic of Santa, she does. (Frankly, she handles her time loop better than Amy Smart does.) She asks her family if it’s a prank, she thinks it’s a dream and tries to fly, and she googles her symptoms—basic groundwork for determining that you’re in a Groundhog Day situation. Eventually, she learns enough about everyone around her and gets good enough at shooting hoops with the neighbor kids to fulfill her wish. But then her husband, who has been saccharinely supportive the entire movie, says he wants a divorce. Only to change his mind 5 minutes later.

Recommended if you like…

Supportive relationship porn ala Virgin River. Snowmen named Dennis. Christmas romances about married people and blended families.


Option 3: Just Another Christmas (original title: Tudo Bem No Natal Que Vem)

Comforting Christmas Movie Clichés:

  • Main character hates Christmas


The description of this movie on Netflix grossly misrepresents the plot. It specifically uses the phrase “Stuck in a time loop.” This is a lie. Jorge, who grows to hate Christmas because it is also his birthday, isn’t stuck in a time loop. He has some kind of amnesia, which happens because his wife’s catatonic grandfather curses him for complaining about Christmas. Jorge wakes up the next morning on Christmas of the next year. He has missed the entire year. His entire extended family comes over, many of the same conversations and fights happen, a wry commentary on how your boring uncle only has three jokes.

Some quality slapstick happens. Drugs are taken to skip years, and then it gets heavy. Jorge misses having bypass surgery, taking up smoking, having an affair, and leaving his wife. Every Christmas he wakes up feeling like he doesn’t know the man he is the other 364 days of the year. This is a legitimately good movie that combines the feel of Christmas Vacation and the deeply philosophical question of—who are we without our memories? It’s also Brazilian, so it’s warm. Ironically, Just Another Christmas begins in 2010 and ends in 2023, but makes no mention of the global coronavirus pandemic, because it was filmed in 2019 and the filmmakers didn’t wildly predict such an unthinkable thing. It’s still a good laugh.

Recommended if you like…

Actually good Christmas movies. Foreign comedies. The idea of liking foreign comedies. Practicing your Portuguese.

Hopefully this guide comes in handy as you look to expand your Christmas viewing rotation. It’s essential to mix in some decent mediocrity. Unless you aren’t like me, and haven’t  been watching multiple Christmas movies a day for three weeks.

Dennis William

Dennis is an aspiring English teacher and still listens to ska music. He lives in Portland, Oregon, which is fine, just not in the same way that DC is fine.

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