Ryan K. (NDD#137) (41 Posts)

Ryan began his love of Disney at a young age, when he went to EPCOT Center the week it opened. His picture showed up in Southern Living Magazine from that trip, and he was hooked. Ryan began his love of Disney films when he attended a showing of The Lion King with his wife, Sally. From there, he went back and began watching all the Disney movies. Since then he’s taken on the challenge of watching all of the Disney shorts and films in order, over on DisneyFilmProject.com. Since then, the site has expanded to the weekly Disney Film Project Podcast and Tweetwatches! Ryan lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and two kids, and makes frequent trips to Walt Disney World for fun and frivolity.

I’m not a negative person. I like to count my blessings and I thank the Good Lord all the time for the things he has given me. Therefore, you know that when I tell you that you should never, ever watch One Magic Christmas, you will hopefully understand and take those words to heart.

Many of you may not have heard of this film, and there’s a good reason for that. Released in 1985 during the transition over to the Michael Eisner regime, this project was an abysmal failure in all ways – creatively and financially. It opened at less than $3 million dollars and went on to gross barely over $12 million. That’s the financial results. Creative is a whole other ball of wax.

Ostensibly, this is a magical Christmas story about how a mother (Mary Steenburgen) who does not enjoy Christmas is taught about the spirit of Christmas and learns to embrace the season. In truth, it’s a meandering and nearly meaningless collection of scenes that ends up confusing the viewer and nearly killing your Christmas spirit because of its depressing and dark messages.

First of all, we open with Harry Dean Stanton, the famed character actor, sitting in a tree playing a harmonica. If you’ve ever seen any of Stanton’s other roles, you would immediately have cause to be concerned. Here he is playing an angel named Gideon, whose job is to get Steenburgen’s character to learn the true spirit of Christmas. The way his plan unfolds is nonsensical.

After we learn about the family (Dad’s lost his job, Mom works as a clerk at a grocery store, kids believe in Santa along with Dad but Mom doesn’t), Gideon enlists Abbie, the youngest child to help him. He does so by asking her to write a letter to Santa and get her mother to mail it. How this relates to an angel of the Lord, I’m not sure and never did discover.

We’re treated to more misery between Mom and Dad after that, none of which really makes a lot of sense. Finally, things heat up when Dad takes Abbie and her brother to the bank to get some money for Christmas shopping. When Abbie runs across the street to the grocery store to tell her mother, Steenburgen’s character storms out of the store to the bank. She’s just in time to see her husband shot by a bank robber who had been rude to her in the grocery store and at a gas station earlier that day. The robber then bolts the store and steals the car with her kids in it, eventually driving off a bridge and killing them all!

It was at this point I declared this the worst Christmas movie of all time. Heart warming Christmas tales do not usually include the deaths of someone’s entire family. Granted, the angel Gideon immediately fishes the kids out of the water, and they return home safely, but their father is still dead. It was then I got a sense that there was some sort of “It’s A Wonderful Life” thing going on here, and not in a good way.

Even once reunited with her children, Mom is still anti-Christmas. The acting in the scene where she tells the kids about their father’s death is horrific. There is no angst in her voice, no emotion. Nothing about the scene tells you what horror this woman has been through.

The natural next step is, of course, a trip to the North Pole to see Santa. If that didn’t make sense to you reading this, then imagine watching it. Abbie goes to the North Pole because Gideon, who is an ANGEL, says he can’t bring her father back, only Santa can. How? By giving her a letter that her mother had written to Santa when she was a child.

I’m sure you see where this is going. Abbie returns, gives the letter to her mother, who then mails Abbie’s letter to Santa, and things rewind to the day her husband was shot. Mom fixes the issues of the bank robber, and all is well for the family. Which is all well and good for them, but I want my two hours back!

I can honestly say I found no redeeming qualities about this movie. The acting by Stanton and Steenburgen was terrible, and they are both good actors. The music is loud and intrusive, the cinematography is dark and depressing even during the lighter moments and the plot is incomprehensible. If Gideon is an angel, with a direct line to God, why does he need Santa to bring this kid’s father back?

Seriously, never watch this film. So stunningly bad is One Magic Christmas, that I felt the immediate need to watch other Christmas films to cleanse the palate. Do not subject yourself to this pain. I do it so you don’t have to, and that’s the way it should be.

Contributed by: Ryan K. (NDD #137). Ryan is our resident film expert and creator of The Disney Film Project.

4 thoughts on “ONE MAGIC CHRISTMAS

  1. I laughed out loud and then had to read this to my husband! We’re always talking about how movies in the 80s seemed kind of scary to kids–and this one went above and beyond!! Thanks for letting me know about it so I could chuckle, but decidedly NOT watch it!

  2. The 80’s was a dark dark time in movie and TV land. LOL The shame is now I want to watch it just to see how bad it really is! Funny review Ryan!

  3. Dana, I can honestly say this one might not even be worth watching for the cheese factor. It’s really bad, as you might be able to tell. Glad the review made you and Jenn laugh. That’s more amusement than I got out of the movie.

  4. My family and I LOVE One Magic Christmas. Gideon’s purpose is to help the mom of the family get back her Christmas Spirit. The whole tragedy part with the husband dying and the kids being rescued from the water is an alternate reality! None of it is real. The mom and dad go for a walk and the Christmas lights in the neighborhood go off. This is the beginning of the alternate reality. It ends and returns to where it left off when the mom gets back her Christmas Spirit. From the time the neighborhood lights go off until they come back on, it’s an alternate reality. The only character who really knows about the alternate reality is the mom. This reality is shown to her to let her know what can happen if she continues to deny Christmas. I agree that little children shouldn’t watch this movie because they wouldn’t understand it. If you understand the movie, then the movie is wonderful! In It’s a Wonderful Life, the main character is shown a reality of what would happen if he had never been born. In that reality, some people are dead that aren’t in the reality of his life. The reality of him never being born was known only to him. How is that any different?

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