I've watched many a mediocre feel-good holiday movie in the last month or so, partly because our tiny library had a recent influx (I'm thinking ABC Family might be selling a cheap package deal of which they took advantage) and partly because I've been knitting crazily, trying to finish Christmas gifts. So here they are:
A bad guy steals one of the reindeer and the newest Santa--young, unmarried and good-loooking--goes looking for him at the zoo that bought him, where happens to work a possible future Mrs. Claus. Cute, harmless, certainly silly at times but not overly sappy.
Mrs. Santa Clause (1996)
A musical! Which made my kids a little fidgety, but we made it. Angela Lansbury is Mrs. Claus, who's feeling underappreciated and takes off with the reindeer and the sleigh to try out a new route before Christmas and, due to reindeer injury, ends up living incognito in 1910 New York for the week before Christmas. The movie introduces women's suffrage, the international feeling of New York in that time, and child labor laws as a backdrop to the simple story.
Holiday in Handcuffs (2007)
An unlikely premise, but more likely than the Santa stories, I suppose. A young woman desperate to please her parents just this once kidnaps a guy to bring home for Christmas. Melissa Joan Hart is likable and Mario Lopez is hot, and the family characters are believably annoying and funny. Definitely sappy, but not bad. (It's not rated but would probably be PG. In spite of this, it's not a kid movie--too many innuendos and other things objectionable.)
12 Days of Christmas Eve (2004)
A successful businessman who's lost sight of what's most important dies an untimely death on Christmas Eve and has twelve chances to live the day again and get it right. This was my favorite one, but I have to admit that my opinion was swayed by the inclusion of the word "catholic" (when asked if karma is a Catholic thing, a priest answers, "Small 'c' catholic...it is!") and grammatically correct lines (like "None of us is perfect"). Molly Shannon is the angelic "nurse" who keeps sending the main character, Calvin, back, and she's always a pleasure. Calvin's progress is also unusually believable, with lots of false steps but a convincing path to appreciating what's important.
I guess I haven't watched as many as I thought, because they've been interspersed with other knit-while-watching movies and online TV. More about them later.