Movie - 1985, G, 88 minutes, Disney;
Genre - Family, Drama, Fantasy
Cast - Harry Dean Stanton, Mary Steenburgen, Gary Basaraba, Elisabeth Harnois, Arthur Hill, Wayne Robson, Elias Koteas, Michelle Meyrink, Sarah Polley
Director - Phillip Borsos
DVD - 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen, 1.33:1 pan & scan, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English); single-sided, dual-layered disc; $14.99 SRP (reduced from $24.99 and $19.99), Released 8/31/99

Movie - One Magic Christmas is a wonderful little film that has been pretty much overlooked by most people. Released theatrically with little fanfare during the 1985 holiday season, the film is one of the live-action Disney gems that deserves more recognition.
It's Christmastime, but Ginny Grainger (Steenburgen) is not feeling the holiday spirit. The family is low on cash, her job at the supermarket is hardly fulfilling, and come January 1, they're moving out of their home. A Christmas angel named Gideon (Harry Dean Stanton) is assigned to cheer Ginny up and show her all the wonderful things she has to be happy about this Christmas. What ensues from Gideon's quest is a magical journey for Ginny, her husband, their two kids, and even Santa Claus. One Magic Christmas is a heart-warming holiday drama/fantasy that undoubtedly appeals to adults, perhaps even more so than to children. Audiences of all ages will be entertained by the thoughtful and emotional story told. It should be noted that for a G-rated movie, there are some rather intense and dramatic moments, but these are essential to the plot. Overall, a charming Christmas film that is definitely worth checking out!

Anchor Bay DVD Note - Disney and Anchor Bay studios have a contract, whereby Anchor Bay was able to release a number of live-action Disney films from the 1960s through the mid-1980s. You might think Anchor Bay, being a small studio, would not be the best distributor to give these films the treatment deserve. On the contrary, Anchor Bay's DVD presentations are up to par and most likely better than what Disney would have done.

Video - For starters, Anchor Bay is able to include both the widescreen and pan & scan versions of the film (which clcoks in at just under 90 minutes) on one dual-layered disc. Disney, on the other hand, would rather include just one version of the film on the disc, and in the case of many upcoming releases, they're opting for the Pan & Scan version and not the original widescreen aspect ratio. Their reasoning includes space considerations, claiming that video quality would suffer by including both versions on a double-sided or dual-layered disc. The video quality of One Magic Christmas undoubtedly proves that claim wrong--the movie looks great! The level of detail is high and the snowy Canadian scenery is crystal-clear. One minor complaint is that the 1.85:1 widescreen transfer is not enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions, as at the time, Anchor Bay was not big on anamorphic DVD releases. Fortunately, it is a minor qualm for a beautiful-looking DVD.

Audio - The feature presentation also benefits from the inclusion of a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The audio is remixed and despite what you might expect from a somewhat low-key film, the surrounds are pretty active. The cold wind from the snowy exteriors is realized through surround usage. In addition, scenes involving travel to and from the North Pole utilize the 5.1 track with powerful effects. The 5.1 track is a solid addition, and a rather surprising treat for a family-friendly drama.

Extras - Though the packaging mentions a Theatrical Trailer is on this DVD, it is not. A trailer would have been nice or extras of some kind, but the lack of supplements doesn't take away from this otherwise quality DVD presentation. One physical extra worth mentioning is a post card reproduction of the original poster art for the movie. Definitely cool and similar to a trailer, the poster art shows you how the film was originally marketed.

Closing Thoughts - Anchor Bay has put together a nice little disc for an excellent little Christmas film. By including both viewing formats, Anchor Bay is able to please both crowds and that deserves two thumbs up. The widescreen transfer and the 5.1 audio track both contribute to the high-quality presentation of this film.

The Ultimate Guide to Disney DVD Home
Complete Recent (1980-Present) Live Action
Review Index