If you look up All I Want for Christmas on IMDB, you get a total of 8 different results. The one I am reviewing today was released in 1991 and stars Jamey Sheridan, Harley Jane Kozak, Ethan Embry (formerly Randall), Kevin Nealon, Thora Birch, Lauren Bacall and features Leslie Nielsen as Santa.
The film revolves around two kids, Ethan O’Fallon (Embry) and Hallie O’Fallon (Birch). They and their mom currently live at their grandmother’s (Bacall) place on the Upper East Side since their parents split up. To say the kids are well-off is an understatement as the grandmother’s apartment is huge, Hallie has expensive clothes but still sells them to get some extra money, and Ethan’s hair bounces with perfectly conditioned ease throughout the film.
Despite everything they have, Hallie’s one wish is to get their parents back together, a common theme for Christmas and family films. To get her wish, she takes it to the big guy, Santa, over Ethan’s warning not to do so. “He’s not a marriage counselor,” says Ethan.
Back at the apartment, we are introduced to Catherine’s new boyfriend, Tony (Nealon) who turns out to be a jerk towards Ethan and awkward to Hallie. Speaking of awkward, there is a scene in the film that, up until a couple of years ago, was quite endearing. Hallie and her grandmother put on a little show and dance to the tune of “Baby it’s Cold Outside.” In today’s social climate, however, that song has been all but eradicated from the world due to its actual lyrical content.
The kids hatch a plan to get their parents back together and we are witness to an escalating plan which includes locking Tony in a Ben & Jerry’s truck heading for New Jersey, as well as getting their mom to visit their dad at the diner he bought and lives over. In addition, Ethan’s budding romance with a girl, Stephanie, matures as their plan seems to be working.
The film ends with the family getting back together again after Tony returns and threatens to send Ethan to a boarding school. After he leaves in a huff, everybody reconciles, and we live happily ever after.
The film owes itself to the duo of Embry and Birch. Coming off a rather successful Thanksgiving movie, Dutch, Embry’s performance as Ethan is endearing even though he could easily have turned into a snotty, rich, entitled brat. His relationship with his sister is enviable and almost too sweet. Birch was just coming off the release of Paradise with Elijah Wood, Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson prior to the film’s release. All the performances in the film are great, and the music and cinematography complement the story.
Fun Fact, Leslie Nielsen has played Santa only 3 times. Seems like more.
I can highly recommend the film as a fun holiday movie for the entire family. You can find it streaming for purchase on Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Apple Movies.