Movie Review: “A Unicorn for Christmas”

Unicorns, for those who missed the memo, have joined magical reindeer, jolly elves and Tim Allen as fixtures in “The Magic of Christmas.”

Which is what explains “A Unicorn for Christmas,” a Hallmark Lite kids’ movie that found its way into some cinemas while no one was watching the store.

It’s not so much a “sweet nothing” as a “nothing nothing” of a holiday movie, bearing evidence that it’s been cut and a lot has been left out. And judging from what made this release print, the edits were no great loss.

Izzy, a tween-looking “little girl” (Abby James Witherspoon) who is all wrapped up in some “Unicorn Universe” TV show (Not seen. Edited out?) creates her own fan fiction out of that show to impress her NYC BFF. Sure, she’s way too old (looking) for that. But she’s off to “the farm” for Christmas, so maybe DVR the “Unicorn Universe Live Holiday Special.”

The “farm” here isn’t exactly explained. Did Dad (Chuck Wicks) inherit it? Did he buy it, sight unseen? Because the wife (Sunny Mabrey) and kids (Christian Finlayson is teen son Max) are thrown onto it, running it and setting up a petting zoo for the annual Christmas carnival in Chestnut Hollow.

The zoo, with cows, chickens, goats and llamas, isn’t much of a draw until little Izzy sees an undersized pony that the lady (Catherine Dyer) who runs sleigh rides lets her borrow for the zoo.

Izzy sees the sparkly digital effect horn, the “Snowflake” imprinted on its hoof, giving away who she/he is. But no adult can.

Kids flock to the petting zoo for the chance to ride on a unicorn. It’s “our own little Christmas miracle,” the family figures.

Football and “Hill Street Blues” alumnus Ed Marinaro shows up as Horace, the shady hustler who runs the town carnival and sees real money in this petting zoo attraction. He’s the best thing in the movie, and maybe its best moment is sketchy Horace getting a glimpse of what the kids see through a tiny tyke’s glasses. He MUST have that unicorn!

The plot is watered-down (baby) formula, and the dialogue insipid, inane or just plane nonsensical.

“You’re just like those gingerbread cookies,” our heroine tells Snowflake. “They don’t stand out 11 months of the year. But then December rolls around. You smell gingerbread and you’re instantly in the Christmas spirit.”

Say what now?

So go ahead, get the inflatable snowman set up and the lights hung all around the house. Insert those Santa legs dangling out of the chimney and make sure Rudolph & Co. are secured to the roof.

But if you don’t have a unicorn in the mix, you’re just not keeping up.

Rating: unrated, treacly PG

Cast: Abby James Witherspoon, Sunny Mabrey, Christian Finlayson, Chuck Wicks, Catherine Dyer, Charlene Tilton and Ed Marinaro

Credits: Directed by Stacia Crawford, scripted by Haven McCord. A Level 33 release.

Running time: 1:26

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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