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4.7 out of 5 stars
Unlikely Angel
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105 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2002
Dolly Parton plays Ruby Diamond in this touching Christmas story. Ruby meets an untimely death, and before entering heaven wants to become an angel. She is sent back to earth on a mission, and if she succeeds she will get her wings. She has to complete a mission before midnight on Christmas Eve. Ruby is now a nanny for a dysfunctional family who is trying to cope after the death of the mother in the family. The family is disconnected, the father a workaholic and the two children feeling distanced. Ruby helps the family realize they need each other, and need to stick together. Overall it is a wonderful holiday movie that will warm your heart. Dolly sings some wonderful songs too. Overall a well written movie, and Dolly is excellent in it. Add this one to your collection, it will brighten any Christmas.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 1999
A wonderful holiday movie about a woman played by Dolly Parton who has an untimely death and must complete a good deed on earth to enter the gates of heaven. Unknowingly to her her good deed is to help a workaholic father realize that the most important thing is his family and that spending time with them on Christmas will bring the family closer together. Dolly is aided on her good deed journey by the late great Roddy McDowell who plays St. Peter who guides her and tells her what to do to complete her mission. I think the songs are great as well. A must see family fare!
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2005
It would be a shame if only Dolly Parton fans saw this movie. They will like it, of course, but anyone who likes wholesome family feel-good movies will like it too. Dolly has one week to bring a hurt and alienated family back together again, and this father, son and daughter are a challenge even to a good-hearted infectious spirit like Dolly. The set-backs are believable, and how she finally does it is believable.

I wish I could give the movie a perfect score, and the rest of the movie is so good, it almost deserves it. But if you're NOT a fan, the first scene is likely to dampen your response to most of the rest of the movie (until you realize that the rest of the movie is not at all like the first scene). I urge you to skip this scene on your first viewing. The story does not start until scene 2 anyway, so you're not missing any story. On the Image DVD, you can just start with track 2. If you don't, you'll feel that this is a three-star movie and you'll be sure that your friendly reviewer is totally besotted to think that merely cutting the first scene would make any difference.

The end too is regretable--not the end of the story, that ends beautifully and credibly. But the movie doesn't stop. It keeps going, and the audience is treated to a rock-country version of (I'm afraid to say it) the Hallelujah Chorus. Now, this may be some viewers' cup of beer, but others will throw up. So, depending on your taste, stop the movie when the story is wrapped up. Don't sour your experience by sitting through that musical atrocity.

If you make these two cuts, you'll be giving this movie 5-plus stars and wondering what is wrong with your friendly reviewer that he couldn't see it that way. And one final tip: if you like this type of story, check out Little House on the Prairie Christmas edition, Mary Christmas, and I'll Be Home for Christmas(1997). And if you read books, try A Thanksgiving Miracle. Other movies and books of this type, I'm sure you're already familiar with.

If you're a student of film or a screenwriter, watch the movie both ways (with the cuts and without) to discover the enormous effects that a bad scene can have on the REST OF the movie. It will astound you!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 1999
This X-mas TV Movie is great entertainment. Dolly plays, what else, a country singer who is killed and becomes an angel in order to help a family come together. The main title, "Unlikely Angel" is a great song. I highly recommend this movie to one and all, especially die-hard Dolly fans!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2005
This made-for-TV movie is a wonderful film that your entire family would enjoy watching together. I teach high school students and showed them this movie close to Christmas and they really enjoyed watching it. Dolly does a great job of portraying Ruby Diamond, an outspoken lounge singer who dies in a car accident but gets a second chance at life so that she may enter the gates of heaven. She has to work with a strict deadline but she manages to pull back together a very dysfunctional family. Dolly wrote two original songs for the movie, including the title track, that aren't currently available on any other DVD or CD. This movie seems to be one that is often overlooked, when in fact it is Dolly at her best. Be sure to purchase a copy while you can - they tend to release this movie for a while and then abruptly remove it from the shelves!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2007
I've got to admit that I've always had a soft spot for Dolly Parton and her singing and acting. Having hugely enjoyed her big screen debut in "Nine to Five", I've followed her busy career ever since. There is something about her whole person that to me seems inherently decent and down to earth, which I find very appealing despite her often exaggerated public persona. She fits in perfectly to a Christmas themed story and apparently Dolly herself also feels that way as she has appeared now in two warmly regarded Christmas offerings in the wonderful "Smoky Mountain Christmas" (should be on DVD!), and this one titled "Unlikely Angel". Dolly plays a character that doesn't stray too far from what we normally associate with all things "Dolly", but she does great work with an admittedly thin story aided superbly by legendary actor Roddy McDowell as St. Peter, or just "Peter", as he asks to be called in the story. After dying in a car crash Dolly must perform a selfless good deed before Christmas arrives so that she can earn her wings and enter Heaven and she is sent by St. Peter to reunite a shattered and emotionally crippled family headed by Brian Kerwin. The family is falling apart after the death of Kerwin's wife and mother to his two children when Dolly takes on the role of "Nanny". With a slight resemblance to "The Sound of Music", which this film also includes a very funny reference to, Dolly not only reunites the shattered family after many set backs, but in the process earns her wings because of the better person she has also become in the process. Certainly "Unlikely Angel", is no masterpiece with the family problems being resolved perhaps a little too easily, however this telelvision movie is a delight to watch and from this year will become a staple in my regular Christmas viewing. Christmas, Dolly Parton, and the very funny Roddy McDowell in one of his last appearances, it certainly doesn't get much better than that so do take some time this coming festive season to check out this delightful little Christmas themed movie.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 1998
This film has a very good storyline. Dolly is really good in it, and they find some of the best outfits for her to wear. It is the story of how she is killed in a car wreck, but cannot get her wings in heaven until she performs a good deed on Earth. Her chore is to help restore a family that has been wrecked by a death of its own. It's a very compelling story, the kind you wish wouldn't end. I would recommend it (but not at $59). I taped it off Lifetime.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2003
i wasn't expecting much when i bought this movie. i love dolly parton, so i bought it. it really makes me happy. i miss 80's christmas movies of the week, like that one where patty duke has given her son up for adoption to some rich people and then he runs away and spends christmas with her and her family in some rural all-american town. that was a good one! this one is even better! it has all the ingredients for a made-for-tv holiday classic - whiny children who can't act, roddy mcdowell as some spiritual bigwig, dolly's bigwigs, dolly's big, christmas decorations that fart, dolly parton in lingerie, dolly parton singing, children who shop-lift, and much much more. totally superb and very heartwarming.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 1998
I have seen all of Dolly's work, and this is the best by far. Next to 9 to 5 this is tops. She is very believable in her part. As she has matured, so has her acting and singing as well. One thing about it, Dolly sure offers a lot of variety in the movie and video department.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2006
If you love Christmas movies and Dolly parton you will love this one. And who could not love Roddy McDowell!
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