A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this heart-gladdening holiday story tells of a calf and a troubled young boy who exchange their most impassioned Christmas wishes. Despite unimpressive animation, Annabelle's Wish, which is soothingly narrated by Randy Travis, sports fine twangy country music and carries a Christmas message of grace, goodness, and hope. The assortment of characters will appeal to preschoolers, but the message of decency and friendship is ideal for grade-schoolers.
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What's the story?
In the animated ANNABELLE'S WISH, Billy, a young boy who has lost his ability to speak after a tragic barn fire, lives with his grandfather in humble but loving circumstances on a farm. Some neighborhood bullies torment Billy, but he also has a very good friend in his neighbor Emily. Billy's relationship with the bullies and their father worsens, and Billy's cruel Aunt Agnes plots to get Billy away from his grandfather. But Annabelle, a cow calf born on Christmas Eve, who wishes to fly in Santa's reindeer team, has true affection for Billy. When Santa asks Annabelle what she wants for Christmas, she whispers that she would like Billy to regain his speech, thus foiling the dastardly plans of Aunt Agnes, who suddenly finds herself attracted to the bullies' father, softening his rough edges.
Is it any good?
One of the strengths of Annabelle's Wish is its naturalness. The different elements of the story have a comfortable fit, and all of the characters get their just desserts in the end. The soulful country music soundtrack perks along in the background for most of the video, but steps up to center stage for a few ear-pleasing, touching tunes.
Although the animation is nothing to write home about, the writing is excellent. The characters let their actions speak for them, never obviously peddling their themes of goodness, sacrifice, generosity, and kindness. Randy Travis' mellow narrative ills in the storyline and sets the stage for the coming scenes. The one underdeveloped story thread is Aunt Agnes's reasons for wanting Billy to live with her. She is way too self-serving to act out of concern for Billy or his grandfather, and yet why she would simply want to spread unhappiness is unclear.