Gideon, a Christmas angel, is sent, by Santa, to help Ginny Grainger. Ginny is a cynic, and she hates Christmas. She and her family (husband, Jack and two kids, Cal and Abbie) have fallen on hard times, making it even harder to believe in anything that can't be seen. With help from Abbie, and a trip to see Santa Claus himself, can Gideon find a way to make Ginny believe again? Written by
Elisabeth Harnois costarred with Ted Danson on CSI. Danson is the husband of Mary Steenburgen, who plays Harnois' character's mother in this film. See more »
When Mrs. Santa Claus opens the door to Abbie, from the back her hair is a markedly different color and texture to how it is from the front (and in all subsequent shots). The back shot was obviously filmed with a stand-in wearing a wig. See more »
Ginny, the police just called. They found the children standing by a roadside, they're fine. They must have been dropped off by the man, before he went in the water the police said.
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Exquisitely made holiday fable with a decidedly dark edge, not unlike "It's a Wonderful Life" in tone. Mary Steenburgen is very convincing as a woman whose heart has been hardened by life's harsh realities. Christmas has become an empty ritual to her and it takes a highly unusual angel named Gideon (played by a softspoken Harry Dean Stanton in a long cattleman's duster) to make her see the light. Her conversion requires some grim but realistic machinations by Gideon, as well as the simple and unquestioning faith of her optimistic husband and children. But the result is an emotionally powerful finale that is honestly earned, not the easy tearjerking of lesser films.
Special mention should be made of the two terrific child actors who play Steenburgen's kids, especially Elizabeth Harnois as the youngest, Abbie, whose unsticky line readings are a treat. Character actor Jan Rubes makes a wonderful, matter-of-fact Santa Claus. The production is further enhanced by Frank Tidy's meticulous cinematography, some imaginative art direction, particularly in Santa's toy shop, and a lovely score by Michael Conway Baker. Thomas Meehan's scenario delves into some dark territory for a genre that is all too often treacly instead of real, but its clear antecedents are treasures such as "A Christmas Carol" and the aforementioned Capra classic. A word of caution, however: this is not recommended for very young children. But for 8 and above, and adults, it's a Christmas tale that may well become a perennial in your house, as it is in mine.
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