If there’s one thing about ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas worth griping about, it’s the fact that coming across a little seen gem during primetime is almost impossible. Sure, they give you the Rankin-Bass classics, but sometimes, you just want to see something you haven’t seen before. Yesterday, I had off of work and with the weather being downright crappy, I decided to spend most of the time watching whatever ABC Family threw at me. The first one on the list was a 1996 TV movie called Unlikely Angel.
Imagine, if you will, It’s a Wonderful Life. Now, instead of focusing on George Bailey, it focuses on Clarence, but instead of wearing a nightgown through the whole movie, he just has a massive bust line. That’s Unlikely Angel in a nutshell.
The movie focuses on Ruby Diamond, a country music star played by Dolly Parton and “The Twins”. Ruby gets into a fatal car wreck, but is turned away from Heaven until she does some sort of penance to get her angel wings. The task is to bring together a dysfunctional family just in time for Christmas. Overseeing her progress is Roddy McDowall as Saint Peter. The family is your basic group of stock characters: workaholic dad, rebellious teen daughter (played by a pre-Smallville Allison Mack), dead mom, and depressed young son. There’s also a love interest at the father’s work that the kids and Ruby work to get matched up with the father.
This is a TV movie, so you should probably curb all expectations in terms of groundbreaking storylines. What’s on display here, besides the obvious, is Dolly Parton’s upbeat disposition. She’s not a particularly good actress, but her charm fits right in to a Christmas movie setting. It’s her goodhearted nature that actually makes this rather forgettable TV movie a decent time-waster.
I wouldn’t suggest actively seeking this movie out, but if you’re stuck in the house during a snowstorm and it happens to come on, it’s a better choice than watching reality television or anything like that.