Look at any holiday shopping list and chances are DVDs are right at the top. So while you're looking for "Spider-Man 2" to wrap under the tree, check out this sampling of new holiday-inspired releases to enjoy now.
"A Christmas Child -- A Max Lucado Story" (Good Times Entertainment). I'm embarrased to admit I don't know who Max Lucado is, and I certainly don't recall his best-selling pictorial book that was the basis for this film. But Lucado is obviously popular enough to have his name in the title of this heartwarming and unapologetically spiritual story.
Thanks to a multilayered story that includes a mystery, this film is much more detailed than similar holiday movies. William R. Moses gives one of his most emotional performances as Jack, a journalist who finds his life in crisis at Christmas. When he leaves his wife during the holidays to track down a story, he ends up taking a sidetrip to find his own.
The film also stars Megan Fellows and Grammy and Dove award-winning performer Steven Curtis Chapman. "Christmas Child" deals with relevant holiday issues including grief, guilt, family and forgiveness. It also involves adoption, an issue close to the hearts of stars Moses and Chapman as we learn in the 24-minute "Making of" segment.
Other extras include a featurette on Chapman's adoption foundation, called "Shaohannah's Hope" in honor of his adopted daughter, and his music video for "When Loves Takes You."
"Eloise at Christmastime" (Buena Vista). The irrepressible little Eloise (played by Sofia Vassilieva) has her own holiday tale in this film starring Julie Andrews as Nanny.
Bonus material include "The Making of Eloise" and "Absolutely Kay Thompson," an intriguing featurette where Rex Reed and others discuss the glamorous author who was quite a multitalented artist (musician, composer, author, dancer). A limited supply of DVDs and videos will include an Eloise holiday ornament.
"I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown" (Paramount). The first Peanuts holiday special in more than 40 years debuted on TV last December. You'll have the same wistful feeling watching this as any Peanuts cartoon, thanks to a familiar jazz score and those friendly faces. But don't be disappointed -- Charlie Brown is a secondary character in this cute tale about Rerun's (the little brother of Linus and Lucy) yearning for a dog. ("I'm nobody, I don't even have a dog," he says.)
Bonus material includes "Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales" (five short cartoons totaling about 17 minutes) and "The Making of a Charlie Brown Christmas" with Whoppi Goldberg.
"Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas" (Buena Vista). It's odd seeing Mickey and friends brought to life via computer animation in this new movie, but it will work for the kids used to "Toy Story" and the likes. This movie is really five short holiday stories featuring Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and the gang.
Bonuses include "All Things Deleted"; the sing-along program "Guess What Donald is Singing?"; and the "Inspiration on Ice" featurette with Michelle Kwan.
"All I Want For Christmas" (Paramount Home Video). This family tale about a 7-year-old girl who asks Santa to bring her parents together again (Harley Jane Kozak and Jamie Sheridan) is delightful. The 1991 film showcases two of today's brightest acting talents (Thora Birch and Ethan Embry, who was working under the name Ethan Randall) when they were adorable youngsters.