Movies Like 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' to Watch Next

If 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' is an essential holiday tradition in your household, you might be looking for similar films to check out after your annual viewing.
by Annie Lyons — 

Kermit the Frog in 'The Muppet Christmas Carol'

Buena Vista Pictures

There might be seemingly countless adaptations of Charles Dickens' classic novella A Christmas Carol, but there's only one The Muppet Christmas Carol

Directed by Brian Henson, the 1992 Christmas musical is often regarded as one of the greatest holiday films of all time, although critical response only resulted in a Metascore of 64. The film tells the familiar story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine), a cold-hearted and stingy moneylender living in 19th century London. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge receives visits from three spirits — the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future — who teach him the error of his ways and help give him one last shot for redemption. Also hanging in the balance is the fate of Tiny Tim (played by Robin the Frog), the ill son of Scrooge's loyal employee Bob Cratchit (played by Kermit the Frog). 

The Muppets fill all the other roles of the story, but despite his fuzzy costars, Caine plays his performance completely straight. As the film explores themes about generosity, regret, and one's ability to change, the Muppets bring their resquite heart, humor, and occasional self-references to the tale, making The Muppet Christmas Carol a welcome entry point into Dickens for viewers of all ages. And though Dickens might've never envisioned beloved puppets taking on A Christmas Carol, the film stays very faithful to the original story. 

If The Muppet Christmas Carol is an essential holiday tradition in your household, you might be looking for similar films to check out after your annual viewing. Fortunately, Metacritic has compiled a list of more family-friendly holiday movies with heartwarming themes to add to your holiday watchlist, including a few others that draw inspiration from classic stories and literary sources. 

Here, Metacritic highlights 10 movies like The Muppet Christmas Carol to watch next.


The cast of 'Little Women'

Columbia Pictures

Little Women (1994)

Metascore: 87
Best for: Fans of cozy coming-of-age tales
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 115 minutes

Similar to The Muppet Christmas Carol, director Gillian Armstrong's Little Women offers a cozy '90s take on a familiar story that's seen many adaptations — in this case, Louisa May Alcott's classic coming-of-age-novel. Though not strictly holiday-themed like this list's other entries, the film features multiple Christmas scenes and captures a certain wintry feeling. Little Women chronicles the highs and lows of the four March sisters as they grow up in Concord, Mass. during and after the American Civil War. The sisters include responsible Meg (Trini Alvarado), rebellious writer Jo (Winona Ryder), sweet Beth (Claire Danes), and artistic Amy (Kirsten Dunst and Samantha Mathis). The film received three Oscar Award nominations, which included one for Ryder's performance. 

"Director Gillian Armstrong takes the delicate snow globe that is Little Women and gives it a bold new shake." — Susan Wloszczyna, USA Today


'The Nightmare Before Christmas'

Buena Vista Pictures

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Metascore: 82
Best for: Fans of offbeat but heartwarming Christmas tales and stop-motion animation 
Where to watch: 

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Runtime: 76 minutes

As its name might suggest, The Nightmare Before Christmas could also be considered a Halloween film, but the stop-motion musical fantasy also has ample holiday spirit amidst its ghouls. Directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton, who conceived the story, the film takes place in the magical world of Halloween Town, whose inhabitants are led by Jack Skellington (speaking voice by Chris Sarandon, singing by Danny Elfman). However, Jack grows bored with the same old scares and longs for something new. After he accidentally stumbles upon Christmas Town, he becomes enamored with the unfamiliar holiday and decides to bring his own spin to this year's Christmas, with chaotic results. 

"The Nightmare Before Christmas is the black diamond of family films, brilliantly conceived, touchingly pure of heart, much more endearing than scary." — Jay Carr, Boston Globe


'Arthur Christmas'

Columbia Pictures

Arthur Christmas

Metascore: 69
Best for: Fans of animated Christmas adventures and stories about dysfunctional families
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 100 minutes

In Arthur Christmas, Santa Claus and his family are the ones who end up needing a reminder of the season's meaning. James McAvoy stars as the titular character, the well-meaning but clumsy younger son of Santa, who spends his time answering childrens' letters. Meanwhile, his militant older brother Steve (Hugh Laurie) oversees the bulk of the Yuletide present-delivery operation, which now consists of a high-tech vessel manned by elves rather than the traditional reindeer and sleigh. But when one little girl's present goes missing, Arthur goes on a journey to deliver it personally. The film received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Animated Feature Film.

"A worthy addition to the Christmas movie canon. It's funny and good-looking, with an impeccable voice cast of U.K. actors. It's also unexpectedly fresh, despite the familiar-sounding premise." — Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post


The cast of 'Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey'


Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Metascore: 69
Best for: Fans of holiday musicals with themes of empowerment
Where to watch: Netflix
Runtime: 122 minutes

Fans of The Muppet Christmas Carol's period piece settingmight also enjoy Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. Not to mention, it's also a musical. Taking place in a vibrant version of the Victorian era, the film follows Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker), a legendary inventor and toymaker with a knack for fantastical designs. But after his apprentice Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key) steals his latest and most special creation, Jeronicus' life falls apart. Thirty years later, he's on the precipice of losing his toy shop for good but soon rediscovers his old spark when his imaginative granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills) unexpectedly shows up on his doorstep. 

"The movie is packed with thrilling sequences, charming songs (by Philip Lawrence, John Legend and others), flashy dance numbers and a delightful cast. Although parts of the film veer on cliché, its intentions are well-meaning and its messages about nurturing curiosity and fostering community are well worth hearing right about now." — Lovia Gyarkye, The New York Times





Metascore: 65
Best for: Fans of animated Christmas adventures and Santa Claus origin stories 
Where to watch: Netflix
Runtime: 96 minutes

Set in 19th-century Norway, this traditionally animated film tells the story of a spoiled postman who finds an unexpected friendship with a reclusive woodsman. The self-centered son of the Royal Postmaster General, Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) gets sent to the frozen and remote island town of Smeerensburg with the assignment of posting six-thousand letters within a year. Thanks to the historic feud between the town's two familial clans, it's a seemingly impossible task. But after Jesper encounters the enigmatic Klaus (J.K. Simmons) and his cabin full of handmade toys, newfound generosity helps heal old rifts. The film received an Oscar Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. 

"It's far more successful with holiday magic than it is with character-based comedy, but that's not enough of a flaw to keep young audiences (and their parents) from potentially turning this feature into a cherished annual tradition." — Alonso Duralde, TheWrap


The cast of 'Elf'

New Line Cinema


Metascore: 64
Best for: Fans of goofy comedies and holiday stories about the importance of family
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 97 minutes

Directed by Jon Favreau, this comedy stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human who was raised as an oversized elf after crawling into Santa Claus' sack as a baby. After learning about his true identity, Buddy travels from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan) but not without a warning from Santa: Walter is on the naughty list. Walter, a cynical businessman who was unaware of Buddy's existence, only reluctantly begins a relationship with the good-natured but childlike Buddy. But, like Scrooge, Walter's unexpected Christmastime visitor gives him a chance to rediscover his holiday spirit. 

"Oonce you rearrange your expectations and give yourself over to the movie's unfailing earnestness, you realize that Favreau and Ferrell do heartwarming fairly well." — Michael Agger, Slate 


'The Polar Express'

Warner Bros. Pictures

The Polar Express

Metascore: 61
Best for: Fans of animated holiday adventures and the book of the same title
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 100 minutes

Narrated by Tom Hanks, this animated fantasy adventure also draws from a popular literary Christmas tale. Based on the 1985 children's book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express tells the story of a magical and mysterious train that takes children on a visit to the North Pole so they can meet Santa Claus and his elves. On Christmas Eve, the train picks up an unnamed boy who has begun to doubt the existence of Santa. His journey helps him learn how to believe in the magic of the season. The Polar Express received both a Golden Globe Award nomination and an Oscar Award nomination for Best Original Song.

"Simple and evocative, yet teeming with intriguing visual effects." — Claudia Puig, USA Today


Dan Stevens in 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'

Bleecker Street Media

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Metascore: 60
Best for: Fans of A Christmas Carol in all shapes and forms
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 104 minutes 

If repeat viewings of The Muppet Christmas Carol have sparked your curiosity about how Scrooge and Tiny Tim first came into existence, The Man Who Invented Christmas might be for you. Based on Les Standiford's 2008 book of the same name, the film tells a dramatized account of how Dickens (played by Dan Stevens) conceived and wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843. Hoping to recover financially after three unsuccessful books, Dickens decides to publish a novella in time for Christmas, despite the holiday's insignificance at the time. But as his deadline rapidly approaches and writers' block takes hold, he finds himself having imagined conversations with his characters, especially after the arrival of his estranged father. 

"We know the beats by heart, but there's a reason A Christmas Carol has been told every which way from Muppets to Disney. You can't help getting swept up in it, even if you've heard it all before." — Christian Holub, Entertainment Weekly


Albert Finney in 'Scrooge'

20th Century Fox

Scrooge (1970)

Metascore: 58
Best for: Fans of musical adaptations of A Christmas Carol
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 113 minutes

For those craving more A Christmas Carol musicals, Scrooge also adds original songs to Dickens' classic tale — though, without any puppets this time. And, also like the Muppet version, the 1970 film takes place in Victorian England and adheres closely to the novella's storyline. Albert Finney stars as the miserly protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge. He went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy for his performance. The film received an additional four Golden Globe Award nominations and four Oscar Award nominations, including multiple nods for its original music. 

"It is absurd, sentimental, pretty, never quite as funny as it intends to be, but quite acceptable, if only as a seasonal ritual." — Vincent Canby, The New York Times


'The Grinch'

20th Century Fox

The Grinch

Metascore: 51
Best for: Fans of the Dr. Seuss book and animated holiday adventures
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 86 minutes

The Grinch gives a new look to the classic 1957 book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the titular character, a grumpy green-furred creature who resides with his dog Max in a mountain cave that overlooks the town of Whoville. The Grinch absolutely despises Christmas and dreads the time each year when the human-like Whos of Whoville begin celebrating the holiday. As this year's Christmas approaches, the Grinch decides to sabotage the Whoville festivities by dressing up as Santa Claus and stealing all their decorations and presents. However, his scheme does not exactly have his planned result. 

"This film is the equivalent of your third or fourth favorite present on any given holiday. It will entertain a few children in the moment, satisfy a few adults who are barely paying attention, then quickly be forgotten." — Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle