“Yes santa, there are still Virginia’s in this world.”
I thought this was one of those movies I saw when little but had pretty much forgotten so much that it might as well be declared a first time viewing. But from the start here, I’m not so sure – it’s more likely, given the year, that it’s a movie I desperately wanted to see but just never got around to once school got in the way of things.
There’s a thing I have about titles that you may have noticed if you regularly read my reviews, and that’s: if you use a single word, an icon, just about anything definitive (think “Halloween”, “Santa Claus”, “Innocence” …), in your movie’s title, you better darn well earn the right to use it. Using the most beautiful of the reindeer names counts. Well, again from the off here, this doesn’t disappoint. Movie openings for me don’t get much better than a teacher telling the by-no-means-conventionally-cute heroine here to, “Sing more softly!” before cutting to a typically ramshackle school nativity where the girl defiantly (and probably obliviously) continues to sing however she damn well pleases. Cut from there to the rounder-faced, pre-Jurassic Park Ariana Richards, and my mind literally boggles over why I haven’t watched this in 15 years at least, nevermind the 20 since its release.
The story here is simple but perfect – somewhere in the middle of a mesh of Free Willy, Dreamer and E.T. (note the scene where she coaxes him to her house with Christmassy cookies, lol – the reindeer even makes an ET sound) – important to note only one of these movies came before 1989. It tugs your heartstrings with quotes from “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” but somehow I for one couldn’t help but counting it is utterly unique by way of quotes like the one I began with above. This is a movie about noticing how wonderful the minds of children are and I don’t care if it’s not of the moment to elevate things like this any more but it’s just about the most important theme of all to me and it’s likely I’ll never consider anything more important … Cloris Leachman and Sam Elliot play their parts perfectly in this movie, the part of the resilient grown-up world doubting the power of fantasy and hope. We live in a world where wars are started and people die over Christ and Muhammad. What harm is there believing in Santa Claus. Like Colbert’s Christmas special said … there are always worse things to believe in.
In short, my movie viewing this past year has really bombed and that was reflected in my Christmas watching too – I’m overjoyed I managed to fit this one first-time viewing in before the 12th day was over. It most definitely goes on my mental list (which one of these days I’ll write down) of the best Christmas movies, but it might just be one of my personal faves regardless of the season too. The one question that remains I guess … does this count as a girl/horse movie? hehe I believe it does, which is probably why I love it so.