One Magic Christmas

When I was a kid, One Magic Christmas was one of those Christmas movies that we watched all the time. Honestly, I’m not sure why that was. I don’t remember ever thinking that it was such a great movie. But it’s there. All over my family memories of Christmas.

It could be because, at one point, we recorded it off the Disney Channel. One Magic Christmas was on a 6-hour VHS tape with Santa Claus: The Movie and something else that was moderately Christmas-y. And, no, I don’t mean The Santa Clause, with Tim Allen. I mean the movie that told the life history of Santa Claus where Dudley Moore was Santa’s favorite elf and John Lithgow played a corrupt businessman who wanted to take over Christmas. Anyway…

One Magic Christmas - Mary Steenburgen

I mean, if I had to wear that to work every day, I’d probably be kind of Scrooge-y, too.

If I ever believed One Magic Christmas was a great movie, that illusion was shattered as I recently rewatched it as an adult. Have you seen this thing? It stars Mary Steenburgen as a suburban mom/grocery store clerk who despises Christmas. Basically, she’s an unwealthy Ebenezer Scrooge. But instead of being visited by three spirits, she gets caught up in some kind of scary time warp.

And when I say scary, I mean scary. When the movie wants to let us know when the time warp is beginning and ending, she’s standing out in her neighborhood at night and all the Christmas lights go out (or come back on when the warp ends). But they don’t just quietly go out. There are horror movie sound effects (like someone smashing a bunch of grandfather clocks) to go with the visuals. How was I not terrified of this movie when I was five years old?

The theology of this flick is way off, too. I mean, it’s a Disney movie, so I know one shouldn’t expect too much theological correctness where Christmas is concerned. But even the most secular of Christmas movies have a tendency to mention baby Jesus somewhere.

In One Magic Christmas‘ reality, Santa Claus is basically God. I assume this because he’s the one who gives marching orders to Gideon, a Christmas angel. Oh, and angels are humans who have died, which is definitely not a biblical fact. At one point, Mary Steenburgen’s little girl goes to the North Pole with Gideon to ask Santa to make it so her mom doesn’t hate Christmas anymore. Santa takes her through his workshop and it’s revealed that, instead of elves, the joint is run by dead people. So… the North Pole is… heaven?

Gideon, by the way, is kind of creepy in and of himself. Reminds me a little of the creepy preacher from Poltergeist 2. He wears a wide-brimmed kind of fedora and a dark brown trench coat. And he is all the time going around talking to the little kids. I mean, I know he’s supposed to be an angel, but it’s called stranger danger. Different time, the 80s.

I don’t know… The whole thing seems way off. And I know I referred to Santa Claus as God in this movie’s alternate universe, but he really just seems like a glorified mail man. But, really, isn’t that mostly what Santa Claus is in the real world, anyway? I think it’s better to think of him as letter carrier that works one day a year than to think of him as a guy who should be charged with multiple counts of breaking and entering.

One Magic Christmas is available to watch on Hulu. You should watch it. You know, if you have absolutely nothing better to do with an hour and a half.

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