KEVIN! A young boy’s name being screamed violently on an airplane is the appropriate severity of response when forgetting your child before traveling abroad. Since my family won’t let me watch Home Alone on repeat, I decided to come up with some alternative Christmas titles for all the moms out there. These movies like Home Alone give nostalgic and hopeful vibes, are not all kid friendly, but are guaranteed to make you laugh. And since humor is another powerful self care tool, you’ll see it woven throughout posts on Circling the Sandbox often.
The holiday season is a beautiful time but can also be stressful as everyone manages their expectations (or tap dances around others’ unrealistic ones). Self-care is essential at all times of the year, but perhaps even more so when navigating emotional minefields, otherwise known as enjoying holiday dinner with extended relatives.
As my Practical Magic post discussed, movies can work wonders for self-care. Also, I’m an American, so the cinematic experience is deeply rooted culturally for me. Since the holiday season is increasingly closing in all around us (evidenced when I heard Christmas music the day after Halloween), I’m serving up a list of movies like Home Alone that will hopefully create some seasonal ambiance.
As always, there is a method to this madness.
Here are the criteria for a film to be considered similar to Home Alone:
- The plot has to be centered around childhood, reconnecting with childhood, or “going home again.”
- Bumbling adults! How would we feel more closely connected to our younger selves without the perceived incompetence of adults around us? Even if we grew up to be those adults in some ways…
- Bamboozling physical antics. This is a hallmark of Home Alone. While not all movies like Home Alone on this list include nails in steps or a swinging paint can, there are department store skirmishes and over-the-top toy stealing.
- Suspension of disbelief. Let’s be real: the Wet Bandits would’ve died after the first incident in Kevin McCallister’s House o’ Hell. The logical switch in my brain is flipped in the off position while watching this, and it’s a fabulous mental break!
- Make you laugh out loud!
- It must have a lesson of gratitude upon its conclusion. After all, that’s what the holiday season is all about. Realizing despite all the material items, you had everything you wanted already.
8 Movies Like Home Alone
1. Jingle All the Way
“Ta-ta, Turtle Man” and “Nobody likes you, Booster.” These gems from Sinbad are enough to want a Jingle All the Way tattoo on my forehead. But the fun doesn’t stop with the quotable one-liners. It keeps going with adults diving into department store combat to get the coveted toy of the year, Turbo Man. This film is a cherished classic that includes an underground toy knock-off operation run by Santas and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a holiday parade.
2. A Bad Mom’s Christmas
From a Santa Clause stripping scene to the ladies stealing a Christmas tree from Lady Foot Locker, this is one to watch after the kids have gone to bed. This movie is about being a mom, dealing with your own mother, and the general stress of expectations around the holiday season. Katherina Hahn shines opposite Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell in this seasonal flick. Throw in Susan Sarandon and Christine Baranski as the grandmothers, and I’m sold. Speaking of Christine Baranski, she also shines in her role as Martha May Whovier from Whoville, which segues nicely into next up on the list.
3. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Yes, it has to be the Jim Carrey version! This movie hits all the criteria plus the laugh-out-loud checklist item a million times. Jim Carrey shines in this role as the Grinch, accompanied by his dog, Max. The story set in the whimsical Whoville instantly transports the viewer into the holiday season, and its ending is, well, so famous it needs no further elaboration.
4. Just Friends
The average person would be disturbed by my obsession with this movie. Ryan Reynolds and Anna Faris make this movie the hilarious spectacle that I watch each year. It’s a romcom that perfectly captures the mess of going home again after an extended hiatus amidst the holiday season. It’s another on this list that is not kid-friendly but will give you much-needed laughs. For anyone who lives far away from their hometown, this will strike many chords.
5. The Santa Clause
This is a classic for a reason! A divorced toy salesman/absentee father is turned into the Father of Christmas? How can this not be hilarious? Tim Allen holds it down in this flick. His physical transition into Santa Clause, plus the disbelieving adults around him, teach valuable lessons about magic, wonder, and the cost of losing it as we age. There’s also the further leap from reality when his ex-wife thinks he’s maliciously turning into Santa and gaining 45 lbs in a week without some serious medical condition. Like all the other movies like Home Alone on this list, it’s sure to give laughs.
So a bit of an outlier on this list, I couldn’t resist a contemporary Scrooge story. The ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future visit a curmudgeon television mogul to save his soul. While this is a bit scaled back in terms of physical comedy, Carol Kane is the ghost of Christmas present, and I cannot help but laugh hard whenever she hits Bill Murray with a toaster. While parts are over the top, I love suspending my disbelief and being taken along for the sleigh ride.
7. Love Hard
Another romcom, this is a newer film, but one that I fell in love with last year. A story about finding love online, only to fly a great distance and discover it’s a catfish. But thankfully, this catfish turns out not to be so fishy. From a kiwi-allergy-induced karaoke disaster to stealing newspapers all over Lake Placid, Nina Dobrev reminded me what the beginning of love can look like and that letting go of unrealistic expectations brings great joy.
8. Home Alone 2
Oh, Kevin McCallister. Your parents left you behind again?
It’s no surprise the sequel to the beloved Christmas film would make this list, especially considering all the disbelief I need to suspend to fathom that this family would forget him for another Christmas. The Wet Bandits are back, except this time stickier. Kevin manages to navigate NYC on his lonesome until meeting a pigeon woman. Its departure from reality is why I enjoy it. Plus, the shower scene with Tim Curry nearly makes me pee my pants (which isn’t as hard these days after having a baby).
That concludes my list, and I hope it added some films to your rotation. If the stress of the holiday season chases you to the confines of your couch, give these a go. I can guarantee you’ll be hunched over in laughter and, at times, wearing a heartfelt smile from all the feel-good moments.
If nothing else…
These films will give you some one-liners to throw around at holiday gatherings. The better family members will recite additional quotable lines from the same movie, while others will shake their heads and go, “I never know what she’s talking about!”