A reindeer doesn’t have to fly to be magical to someone, and Prancer succeeds, in its unassuming and plainspoken way, to prove that point. This 1989 family film stars Rebecca Harrell as 9-year-old Jessica, a motherless schoolgirl raised (and largely ignored) by her bereaved and embittered father (Sam Elliot), an apple farmer. While Jessica’s dad struggles to keep food on the family table, the little heroine worries over the fate of a wounded reindeer she meets and wistfully identifies as a member of Santa’s sled crew. The story may sound overly precious, but the film is grittier and more realistic than that. Far more concerned with wobbly family relationships than gilded escapism, Prancer is a rare family film that can entertain without invoking fluffy enchantment.
Run Time: 103