The Christmas Star (1986)

DailyView: Day 230, Movie 318

One day after announcing the extension of the DailyView for a second time to encompass a full year (365 days), I kicked it off with a Christmas movie that I found on Disney +.

The Christmas Star felt like a made-for-TV movie from the mid-80s, especially with a cast that included Ed Asner, Fred Gwynne and Rene Auberjonois.

Ed Asner played Horace McNickle, a counterfeiter who was serving his time in prison. With just a few months to go on his sentence, McNickle saw a TV program that showed the hiding place where he and his former partner hid their money. Afraid that he was going to lose it all, McNickle organized an escape, dressed as Santa Claus, to whom he had a resemblance to.

McNickle got help from a couple of kids, Billy (Nicolas Van Burek) and Trudy (Vicki Wauchope), who believed he was the real Santa Claus. McNickle played on the kids’ naivety and tried to get them to do his dirty work for him. However, he began to see the charm of the children and his inspiration for his plan waned.

As I mentioned earlier, this felt like a TV movie and the plot fell right into that corner. It is extremely cheesy, filled with ridiculous plot points and some of the strangest, out-of-nowhere bits I have seen. This movie changed tones multiple times, even including a mysterious ghost train that played a big part in the story as if it were a different movie.

The kids involved were not great actors at the time, but they were not meant to be. They were there for the cuteness factor (although, to be fair, Nicolas Van Burek did continue on with a decent career).

Ed Asner, who passed away this year, is always fantastic and his very inclusion in this movie elevated it from the drek that it should have been. Asner is charming as the bad Santa who learns a Christmas lesson from a Christmas miracle. Fred Gwynne’s put down police detective character has a few minutes of funny too.

As a family film, this could be worse. It is far from a classic, but I did not hate watching it. Judging it on a scale of silly Christmas movies, this was pretty good. It’s nothing that I would put up for an award, but as a family film during the holiday season, you could absolutely do worse. That may not be a rave review, but it is about much as I can give it.

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