One Last Time
"One Christmas" should be a tantalising proposition; a movie based on a short story by Truman Capote and featuring Katharine Hepburn, in fact her final appearance before she retired from acting, heck it even stars the Fonz, I mean Henry Winkler. Sadly "One Christmas" is not the Christmas movie it promises to be and struggles to grab you with a lethargic story about a son spending Christmas with his estranged con-artist father who has a penchant for charming older women out of their money. You almost get a sense that someone stumbled across Capote's short story, which I believe was based on his own childhood, and thought just the connection would make it a success but the story doesn't have enough going for it.
Young Buddy (T.J. Lowther) finds himself heading to New Orleans to spend Christmas with his estranged father (Henry Winkler - An American Christmas Carol) who calls himself an entrepreneur. In truth his dad is nothing more than a con artist who charms older women to get them to stump up money for his schemes and his current target is Emily (Swoosie Kurtz) except her aunt Cornelia Beaumont (Katharine Hepburn - On Golden Pond) is well aware what sort of man he is. As time passes Buddy wises up to the shifty dealings of his father and becomes increasingly disappointed with him.
"One Christmas" is an obvious sort of movie because it is a TV movie which means we have Buddy's dad being a bit of a bad guy and so has to under go a character transformation by the time the movie ends. We also have the naive Buddy wising up to him and his antics as a con artist. But that is really it and it doesn't matter that this is based on a Truman Capote story as it is not enough to fully engage an audience who amongst other things might have been lured by "Christmas" in the title. It is all too lethargic and stiff to really keep your attention.
But the storyline to "One Christmas" is not the only disappointing thing as the characters are also disappointing. Buddy is not a cute kid but an annoying one who is not just a bit whiney but extremely whiney. Then there is his father and to give Henry Winkler credit he does his best and he certainly delivers the con artist charm of the character but he is not duplicitous enough to be convincingly nasty. And as for the great Katharine Hepburn well by this time in her life Katharine was basically playing herself and whilst just seeing Katharine Hepburn on screen is an enchanting experience this is neither a great performance nor a great character for her.
What this all boils down to is that "One Christmas" becomes a movie for fans; those with a thing for the works of Truman Capote and for those who adore Katharine Hepburn. But for those hoping for an engaging and entertaining Christmas movie "One Christmas" is likely to leave them looking elsewhere.