Holiday Movie Advent Day 4: The Ultimate Christmas Present | Holiday Film Advent Calendar | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Holiday Movie Advent Day 4: The Ultimate Christmas Present

Two kids wreak havoc on Christmas by making it snow in Los Angeles.

click to enlarge Holiday Movie Advent Day 4: The Ultimate Christmas Present
A normal Christmas in Los Angeles
In the spirit of the holiday season, Pittsburgh City Paper presents a holiday movie advent calendar. One holiday movie review, every day 'til Christmas (probably).

Disney Channel nails the cheesy, lovable holiday film with an 18-year-old classic, The Ultimate Christmas Present.

It’s three days until Christmas in hot, sunny L.A. Disney makes it obvious, with reggae-inspired holiday music. This is a big plot point. Hot and sunny, don’t forget it. Allie (Hallee Hirsh) is daydreaming through English class when the teacher calls on her. The creative writing essay is due tomorrow and Allie totally forgot! 

She and her best friend, Sam (Brenda Song) leave school and somehow stumble upon a cottage. Inside, a grumpy old man (John B. Lowe) stomps and growls before throwing an R2-D2-looking thing out the door. Allie steals the gadget, even though Sam (a blatant plot device) points out, “Maybe he didn’t mean to throw it away!”

The two discover that the discarded robot controls weather and Allie decides to get out of homework with a blizzard. Sam tries to stop her, “Think of all the trouble we could get in!” but Allie cranks up the snow.

It turns out that Mr. Grumpy is Santa (gasp!). Mrs. Claus (Susan Ruttan) sends two large adult elves, Crumpet (John Salley) and Sparky (Bill Fagerbakke), down to help Santa find the machine. These elves are not like other elves. They’re clumsy, bumbling idiots, full of terrible jokes and faulty technology.

Snowflakes start to fall and Allie’s Christmas dream comes true. School is canceled! Somehow, everyone in L.A. owns full winter gear and isn't worried about climate change. The movie finally introduces a villain: very intense meteorologist Edwin Hadley (Peter Scolari).

Crumpet and Sparky catch up to Santa and connect the thief to a shoe print. The three interrogate every girl on the naughty list who wears that shoe brand. Be prepared to hear grown men say "naughty girls" often.

Snow keeps falling and Allie realizes that the blizzard isn’t a Christmas miracle but a Christmas nightmare. Everything is ruined! She and Sam exchange sad stories about Christmases past before turning off the machine — or so they think. Overnight, the machine goes rogue.

Allie and Sam sneak out to stop the snow but run into Santa, Sparky, and Crumpet instead. Santa reveals the reason for his weather robot. It’s his ultimate Christmas present: a perfect blanket of snow that forces the world to realize what Christmas is truly about, love and hope. It’s so corny it works.

Eventually, Edwin tracks down the weather machine, steals it, and gets trapped in a chocolate factory (as one does). Instead of becoming the “greatest weatherman in the world,” Santa ships him to Antarctica.

The film ends as Santa realizes he used the wrong batteries in the machine. Silly Santa! The gadget is fixed and it stops snowing in L.A. Santa leaves to deliver presents but first encourages Allie to do her homework and love her family.

Like all Disney movies, the plot is melodramatic and the ending is wrapped into a neat package with a bow on top. The dialogue is robotic, plot points are clearly laid out, and there are too many bell-bottom jeans. It’s a complete feel-good, mind-numbing holiday classic.

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By Mars Johnson