|Directed by||Roy Wilson|
|Produced by||Barbara Dunn-Leonard|
|Written by||Dan Henderson (short story)|
Jaime Barton Klein
Jerry Van Dyke
Mary Kay Bergman
Kay E. Kuter
Beth Nielsen Chapman
|Narrated by||Randy Travis|
|Music by||Steve Dorff|
|Edited by||Tom Gleason|
Ralph Edwards Productions
|Distributed by||Hallmark Home Entertainment|
|October 21, 1997|
Annabelle's Wish is a 1997 American animated Christmas film that revolves around a young calf who aspires to learn to fly and become one of Santa Claus' reindeer. It is narrated by American country singer Randy Travis and stars veteran voice actress Kath Soucie. Hallmark Home Entertainment released the film to video on October 21, 1997, followed by a television broadcast later that year on Fox.
The film is narrated, and begins with Santa Claus delivering presents on Christmas Eve. In the fictional rural farming community of Twobridge, Tennessee, a calf is born on Christmas Eve, which the narrator says is a night made for wishes. Grandpa Charles Baker lives on a farm with his mute grandson Billy, who is friends with a girl named Emily. When Charles' truck sputters out in front of the Holder Farm, Bucky and Buster Holder rush out and mock Billy for his muteness; Emily defends Billy, Charles tries to be a mediator, and Gus Holder orders them off his property.
In the city, Billy's Aunt Agnes, a wealthy and snobbish perfectionist, prepares for her "perfect" Christmas, but realizes something is missing. Agnes decides that she wants a child, and visits her lawyer, who explains that when her brother (Billy’s father) died, she had given up all rights to guardianship of his son, Billy. Agnes demands her lawyer to find a loophole. At the farm, Charles reminisces about a fire in the barn, after which a doctor stated that Billy would never talk again. It is implied that Billy's parents died in the blaze.
Later that evening, Santa arrives and dusts the animals with magic powder; it is revealed that animals are given the ability to speak on Christmas. After conversing with them, Santa meets the calf and names her Annabelle. Upon meeting Santa, Annabelle becomes fascinated with his reindeer and their ability to fly, and wishes to fly herself. Santa leaves reminding the animals that their speech ability must be kept secret.
On Christmas morning, Agnes arrives and gives gifts to Billy, which he dislikes. Billy then learns that Santa's gift to him is Annabelle. When Billy sneezes in the barn, he is surprised to hear Annabelle say "bless you", revealing that animals can talk. The animals convince Billy not to reveal the secret, leading to Annabelle's shock of his inability to speak. Before she leaves, Agnes makes it clear to Charles that she wants Billy.
Emily's new snow sled is tied to Annabelle, who pulls it with Emily and Billy on board, but they crash into and destroy Mr. Holder's fence. Holder smugly wonders how Charles is going to pay for the damages to his fence and feed Annabelle. Holder then calls the sheriff. At the barn, Annabelle's mother Star recounts the incident involving the fire and that Billy is unable to speak because of it. Annabelle then decides what she wants to do next year when she meets Santa, followed by a dream of her flying throughout the sky.
The next morning, the animals lose their ability to talk, which makes Billy wonder if he imagined the whole thing. The sheriff and the Holders arrive with Mr. Holder demanding the money for fence repairs. Knowing that Baker does not have the money, Holder takes away Annabelle; the sheriff, sympathetic to Billy and Charles, promises that if Charles can get the money to repair the fence in 24 hours then Annabelle will be returned. Billy is devastated as the Holder boys drag away Annabelle. Charles decides to sell a music box that belonged to his daughter (Billy's mother), even though it is the only thing he has left of her. The next morning, Charles sells the music box, and the sheriff retrieves Annabelle, who has a joyous reunion with Billy.
Billy, Annabelle and Emily spend the year together as friends. Winter comes again, and the holidays are upon the community. As Billy and Emily head home for Christmas vacation, the Holder boys appear and bully them; when the bullying becomes physical, Annabelle retaliates by knocking the boys into the snow. The boys try to feign innocence, but the sheriff got the whole story from the school bus driver and tells their father the truth, and he sends them to their room as punishment. The sheriff tells Holder that his attitude has turned his boys into lying bullies and that he has spread his misery to others through his actions. The sheriff also reveals that Baker had to sell his daughter's music box to retrieve Annabelle and that he should know the loss of a loved one, hinting that Holder lost his wife years ago. Holder feels ashamed.
In the city, Agnes' lawyer has discovered a loophole that will give Agnes custody of Billy by Christmas Day. Agnes shows up triumphantly at how she has obtained the right to care for Billy. The loophole states that Agnes will have custody of Billy and his welfare until he is able to speak and if Charles interferes, she will call the police. The animals, overhearing this, push Agnes' car into a pond, delaying her plan until the next day. Charles and Billy are happy that they will at least spend one more Christmas together.
That evening, Santa arrives and once again gives the animals the ability to speak. Annabelle then whispers a wish into Santa's ear and asks him to fulfill it. On Christmas, Billy begins speaking again after opening a Christmas present box from Santa that contains magic dust. Agnes is surprised when Billy says he wants to stay with his grandfather and that her plans to take him are nullified. Billy goes to see Annabelle, but she can only moo now. Star explains that Annabelle permanently gave up her Christmas voice so he could speak again. When Billy asks about Annabelle's desire to fly, Star restates that hearing Billy speak was Annabelle's true wish.
Mr. Holder apologizes to Baker and reveals that after learning about the music box, he felt ashamed and decided to buy it for Baker as a Christmas present. Agnes meets Holder and his boys, and the narrator implies that she married Holder and became a stepmother to the boys.
Several years later, Billy grew up and married Emily and Annabelle became an old cow. It is then revealed that Billy is the narrator, and that he still talks to the animals, which baffles Emily. On Christmas Eve, Santa grants Billy's wish for Annabelle's earlier desire to become a reindeer. Annabelle also becomes young again and regains the ability to speak, before flying off with Santa and his other reindeer.
- Annabelle: Young and adult Annabelle are both voiced by Kath Soucie
- Billy Baker: Young Billy is voiced by Hari Oziol and adult Billy is voiced by Randy Travis
- Grandpa Charles Baker: voiced by Jerry Van Dyke
- Aunt Agnes: Voiced by Cloris Leachman
- Gus Holder: Voiced by Jim Varney
- Bucky and Buster Holder: Gus' two sons. Bucky is voiced by Charlie Cronin and Buster is voiced by James Lafferty.
- Emily, voiced by Aria Curzon as a child and by Beth Nielsen Chapman as an adult
- Santa Claus, voiced by Kay E. Kuter
- Star, voiced by Jennifer Darling
- Scarlett, voiced by Rue McClanahan
- Slim, voiced by Jerry Houser
- Owliver, voiced by Steve Mackall
- Brewster, voiced by Brian Cummings
- Hens, voiced by Mary Kay Bergman and Tress MacNeille
- Ears, Charles’ dog: Voiced by Jay Johnson
- The town sheriff and The lawyer: Both voiced by Clancy Brown
- Doc Taylor, voiced by Stu Rosen
- Tress MacNeille, Alison Krauss, and Frank Welker provided additional voices.
The film's score was by Steve Dorff, who also wrote the film's songs with John Bettis and Travis. The songs were performed by Travis, Alison Krauss, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Dolly Parton, Kevin Sharp, and Nanci Griffith.
Annabelle's Wish was released by Hallmark Home Entertainment on October 21, 1997, and was the first film created by Ralph Edwards Films to be released. The film later aired on Fox on November 30, 1997.
Lynne Heffley of the Los Angeles Times praised Travis' narration, the score and songs, and the film's "gentle message of selfless love". Andrea Higbie of The New York Times referred to the character of Agnes as the film's version of Cruella de Vil, and wrote that the film would appeal to young viewers but that "its narcissistic dysfunction angle ("If Aunt Agnes doesn't love Billy, why does she want to take him away from Grandpa?") will leave them wishing for a villainess who simply has fur coats on her mind," in reference to de Vil.
When the film premiered on Fox, it was the highest-rated television program among children between the ages of two and five. Annabelle's Wish was also among the top-five best-selling videos during November and December 1997, and was Hallmark Home Entertainment's best-selling video as of January 1998. A portion of the video sale revenues were donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
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