Back in the 1990s, broken homes were all the rage in movies and televisions. The nuclear family was under attack, the way Christmas is under attack nowadays (sarcasm), and the only ones that could save the perfect family makeup was meddling kids that didn’t understand the difficult intricacies of maintaining a romantic relationship and their schemes to contrive re-meet-cute stories between divorced parents.
All I Want For Christmas is what you would get if you set The Parent Trap during Christmastime. Before Ethan Embry won the hearts of audience-goers and Jennifer Love Hewitt in Can’t Hardly Wait, he was teaming up with a Thora Birch that is so young, watching this double-featured with American Beauty may require a shower immediately after. The two kid stars plot to get their parents back together, as their mom is set to marry uber-douche Kevin Nealon. Why is he an uber-douche? Because kid movies are never the place for grey areas and you need a villain in this movie.
I remember liking this movie quite a lot when I was a kid and, for the most part, it holds up. It’s a silly little, predictable movie that doesn’t waste too much time on things that aren’t central to the plot. You can also see the promise the two young actors had to offer all the way back in 1991 and they carry this movie very well.
Jamey Sheridan, who I can’t separate from his role in the TV series The Stand, plays the dad while Harley Jane Kozak, a generic pretty blonde that you probably think you recognize from something else, but you don’t, plays the mom. Parents are always pretty hapless in these sorts of movies. They’re kind-hearted and it’s obvious from the get-go that there is still some sort of an attraction there, but because the plot needs the separation, so it goes. It would be interesting to see a “let’s get our parents back together movie” in which the parents are obviously not right for each other; better yet, a “let’s drive our parents to a divorce” plot.
Stealing the show, for obvious reasons, is an actress that you’d be surprised is actually in this movie. A long time removed from her starring roles along side Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall acts circles around the rest of the cast as the grandmother. Leslie Nielson, in inspired casting, plays the mall Santa (or possibly the real Santa) and he’s a welcome addition to the cast.
All I Want For Christmas seems to be a little forgotten, but it’s a family film that most people should be able to enjoy. It isn’t inspirational or downright hilarious, but it’s a nice, feel good movie that is over in 90 minutes.