One Magic Christmas (1985)
Directed by Phillip Borsos
Based on the story by Thomas Meehan, Phillip Borsos, and Barry Healey
Screenplay by Thomas Meehan
Starring: Mary Steenburgen, Gary Basaraba, Harry Dean Stanton, Elisabeth Harnois
Ginny Grainger (Steenburgen) is a woman in need of some good luck. While she focuses on the needs of her family, she’s forgotten the spirit of the holiday season. Only when an angel (Stanton) intervenes does Ginny begin to realize the true meaning of Christmas.
This is a Christmas film that seems to have been forgotten. Thanks to the miracle of Netflix I was able to check it out. The film was directed by Phillip Borsos (The Grey Fox). The story was written by Borsos along with Barry Healey (Hollywood North) and Thomas Meehan (Spaceballs). Meehan also completed the screenplay for this film. The cast features Mary Steenburgen (Philadelphia), Gary Basaraba (Fried Green Tomatoes), and Harry Dean Stanton (The Green Mile). Elisabeth Harnois (Keith) made her big screen debut in this one.
In the world of Christmas movies, this one seems to have missed the point. While the story finds the magic of Christmas with the conclusion, the rest of the movie misses it. This isn’t a problem with the dialogue or the action. The issue comes from the need the writers had to drive home the desperate situations of the people in the film. The point is made early, but the story persists in driving home the sadness. Unfortunately, this weakens the ending, which just can’t overcome all of the sorrow. While this movie has some good moments, it’s just not heartwarming enough for Christmas.
The acting in this movie actually brings the material up quite a bit. Despite the weak story, the emotional highs and lows are nicely captured by the cast. Steenburgen carries the film with her great performance as the overwhelmed mother and wife. Harry Dean Stanton also does great work in his role. The rest of the cast is also pretty good. Overall, the acting does everything it could with the story, and more.
There’s not a lot to say about the rest of the movie. The score is a typical mash-up of Christmas tunes reworked for the emotional moments of the film. The visuals are good, but nothing special. Overall, the technical work does what it needs to do in bringing this story to life.
This movie is one of the more somber Christmas films I’ve ever seen. If you’re a die-hard holiday movie fan you might want to check this out. Otherwise, this is one that might not make the list in my house next holiday season. Despite great acting, this one just doesn’t bring the Christmas spirit to life the way I hoped it would. I give this one 1.8 out of 5 stars.