An angel tries to help a struggling, cynical
mother rediscover her Christmas spirit.
One Magic Christmas (1985)
Directed by Phillip Borsos
Written by Thomas Meehan
Starring Mary Steenburgen, Harry Dean Stanton, Gary Basaraba, Elisabeth Harnois, Robbie Magwood, Jan Rubes, Wayne Robson, Arthur Hill
From beginning to about half an hour before the end of the film, One Magic Christmas is just about the most depressing Christmas movie of all time. However, at the end, you learn that it was build-up towards a truly breathtaking Christmas miracle that feels worth an hour of suffering. One Magic Christmas is a little-known gem that vanished in the late 80's and was introduced to me by my grandmother, who has loved it for years. I'm glad I watched it, as it encapsulates the true meaning of Christmas better than most, and features a realistic struggling family that never stops trying.
Mary Steenburgen plays Ginny Grainger, a struggling mother who is barely making ends meet and has lost her sense of hope and imagination because of it. Her husband, Jack (Gary Basaraba) tries to maintain a sense of wonder and fun for their children, but after tragedy strikes, it looks like hope is dead for the Grainger family. But the angel Gideon (Harry Dean Stanton, who is slightly creepy in the role at first but ultimately becomes endearing) has other plans, and takes it upon himself to save the family's Christmas spirit and make things right. One of the best touches this film has is the idea that Christmas angels are good people who died and became angels to help people in the afterlife. It's a nice, humanizing touch on angels that I'd never seen before.
Despite a number of depressing and heartbreaking scenes, One Magic Christmas is a perfect film to make you appreciate what you have. There are moments of loss and there are moments of levity, and by the film's end, you'll understand that human beings have the power to make their own miracles in the form of a loving family and the strength that lies in hope. More people need to discover this movie, especially around the holidays.