“Prancer,” a 1989 “family” Christmas film, was chosen by my readers. I’d never viewed it, but figured if my readers wanted me to, there must be something redeeming about it.
I was wrong.
“Prancer” is set in a Mid-west town that has clearly seen better days. The town public works team is putting up its annual Christmas displays—including a Santa in sleigh with the requisite reindeer. As they hoist Santa up, the third reindeer drops and breaks leaving a gap. Jessica, an elementary aged girl, sees this happen and asks the workers if they intend to fix the broken Prancer. (She’s memorized their names probably by learning the “Rudolph” song opening.)
They don’t. The hole remains, and the third reindeer is missing.
And within the next day or so an actual reindeer appears in the afternoon and Jessica sees it. Later that evening and after dark, Jessica is out driving with her dad and happens upon the deer in the middle of the road. Its leg has a wound from a bullet (it is hunting season, you know). Dad pulls out the shotgun in his pick-up truck, Jessica cries to make him stop, and the deer disappears.
Jessica is convinced its Prancer due to the fallen fake reindeer.
Jessica’s mom has recently died, times are really tough. Her dad is nasty to her and just trying to make ends meet. Jess is shown as the girl who sings too loud and has only one real friend. All this is supposed to endear her to us, but I just had to wonder why dad couldn’t be a bit more loving or if one of the other adults could have noticed Jessica and reached out a bit since it had to be tough to lose a parent. Nope.
Of course, she nurse Prancer back to health, and she writes a letter to Santa to set up a rendezvous point on December 23. The fake town Santa takes the letter to the town paper and the editor runs the letter and the Polaroid of Prancer the next day. There’s some other plot twists, but nothing surprising or interesting.
The yelling from dad and a very odd (and a little scary) neighborhood woman made me not want to show this to my kids (never mind the plot device of having a dead mother). It’s not really that much of a “family” film in my book.
So, while the town does rally around Jessica some after the editorial appears, this film just doesn’t get to a redeeming point. I’m giving it:
I’ll never watch this one again. And given the fact that not even Netflix is carrying this movie anymore (I had to check it out from a local library), I doubt you will either.
Next up: “A Miracle on 34th Street.”