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Western Animation / Annabelle's Wish

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Wish I may. Wish I might. On my favorite star.
Let me feel, let me see the world from where you are.
Someday soon, Mr. Moon, I will touch your face.
I'll flutter by, lady butterfly.
Challenge eagles to a chase.
Round and round, and up and down.
No boundaries no fears.
My heart was born to dream
to see the world from way up here.
— The film's theme song "The World From Way Up Here", performed by Alison Krauss

Annabelle's Wish is a 1997 direct-to-video animated Christmas film. Set in rural Tennessee, the story is mainly about Billy, a little boy whose parents died in a fire and now lives with his maternal grandfather, Charles, on his farm. Billy is a mute, brought on from being traumatized after being caught in the same fire in his grandfather's barn that killed his parents. On Christmas Eve, a calf named Annabelle is born. Soon after, she meets Santa Claus, who gives her and the other farm animals the ability to speak once a year on that day. Annabelle becomes fascinated with Santa's reindeer and dreams of learning to fly and pulling his sleigh. On Christmas morning, Annabelle befriends Billy, and the two become inseparable. But trouble comes in in the form of Billy's Aunt Agnes (the sister of Billy's late father), who is constantly scheming to gain custody of him by any means necessary. When all hope seems lost, it is up to Annabelle to show what it means to sacrifice for someone you love, and that a kind act can go a long way, sometimes even returning when you least expect it...

This special premiered on Fox in 1997, and was a holiday staple for Cartoon Network for many years. It got a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade during its premiere year, and also helped to promote the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as seen on the original VHS release.

Not to be confused with A Simple Wish, which was released around the same time and also features a principal character named Annabelle (but a different spelling thereof).

Annabelle's Wish contains examples of:

  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: The narrator is revealed at the end of the movie to be a grownup Billy.
  • Animal Talk: The animals can speak like humans, but only on Christmas. It's very lightly implied that they can speak to each other the rest of the year, as Star at one point says that Annabelle has "thought of nothing else all year long." Which makes her eventual sacrifice a little less sad.
  • Artistic License – Law: Even putting aside the question of whether a calf is equal compensation for a section of rickety fence (female calves are especially valuable on a farm), Gus and the sheriff seizing Annabelle without a court order is definitely suspect.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Annabelle spends the entire movie (and year in-universe) waiting to see Santa so she can ask to fly like his reindeer. She ends up giving her Christmas voice to Billy instead, because her true wish turns out to be to hear Billy talk.
  • Big Eater: Slim, who even eats Santa's lunch.
  • Black Comedy: On the subject of Annabelle's dreams, Ears remarks that she'll grow out of it. "I used to dream of being famous, you know, like Lassie or Old Yeller! Well, maybe not like Old Yeller..."
  • Blatant Lies: Bucky and Buster Holder try to frame Annabelle for attacking them out of nowhere after she charges at them to defend Billy and Emily. Too bad for them that the school bus driver saw everything.
  • Book Ends: The film begins with Annabelle being born on Christmas Eve and ends with an elderly Annabelle wandering out of the barn to die on Christmas Eve, and her subsequent "rebirth" as a reindeer.
  • Call of the Wild Blue Yonder: Annabelle, a calf, wishes to fly like Santa's reindeer after first seeing them. However, after bonding with Billy, who had lost his voice in a fire, she gives up her dream and her ability to talk on Christmas so that Billy could regain his voice. Years later, when Annabelle is elderly and near death, Santa comes and makes her one of his reindeer, restoring her voice.
  • Celestial Deadline: Santa gives the animals the magic talking powder on Christmas Eve; the magic ends at midnight on Christmas Day.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Billy and Emily.
  • Condescending Compassion: When Agnes and Charles argue about who Billy should live with, Agnes proceeds to call Billy "poor and pathetic", something that visibly appalls Charles as he proceeds to point out that Billy is doing well on the barn even without his voice, especially with his new friend Anabelle,
  • Cool Car: Aunt Agnes' pink Cadillac.
  • Cute Mute: Billy. Until the last moments of the special, anyway.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Sled", "Sleigh", they're the same thing, Emily.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: It's not clear why Billy lost his ability to talk after the barn fire. Smoke inhalation? Trauma? The movie storybook implies the latter, as it says that the fire "scared him so much he hadn't spoken a word since."
  • Disney Death: At the very end of the movie, Annabelle is close to dying of old age, but Santa sees how brave and kind she was all her life and uses special magic to restore her to full health and reincarnate her as a reindeer, regaining her voice in return, thus her wish has come true.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Aunt Agnes wants to tear Billy away from a loving home for selfish Loving a Shadow motives and isn't very respectful when talking about his mother. Still, she does seem to have loved her brother and briefly sheds a tear while talking about his death. She also takes a liking to Gus toward the end.
  • The Faceless: Agnes's lawyer. Only his hands and the back of his chair are seen.
  • Fat and Skinny: Bucky and Buster Holder, who torment Billy and Emily throughout the film, differ only in weight.
  • Feather Fingers: Owliver.
  • Freudian Excuse: Gus' cruelty apparently stems from the heartache of losing his own wife, a pain he tried to repress until he heard the story of how Charles gave up his own daughter's music box to pay him off. He immediately goes about to make things right, and prompts his own sons to apologize as well.
  • Good Is Not Soft: After Bucky and Buster shove Emily for standing up for Billy, Annabelle shoves them to the ground. They try to get her in trouble for it, but unfortunately for them, the bus driver saw the whole thing.
  • Good Stepmother: Aunt Agnes probably with Bucky and Buster.
  • Good-Times Montage: Billy, Emily, and Annabelle getting through the seasons together.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Gus Holder.
  • Happily Married: Billy and Emily at the end.
    • Also implied with Gus and Aunt Agnes.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Billy.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: An extremely rare non-death example: when Annabelle learns Billy is going to be taken away by Aunt Agnes unless he talks again before Christmas Day, Annabelle asks Santa to give her ability to talk to Billy, even though it means she can never speak again.
  • Innocently Insensitive: When Billy finds out that Annabelle and the other farm animals can talk, Annabelle says that Billy "won't" tell anyone about it - without the knowledge Billy "can't" tell anyone.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: At one point, after Grandpa Charles says that "Doc Taylor" has done all he could for Billy, Aunt Agnes argues that he needs "real doctors, not some country hick who treats pigs as well as people." Obviously, this isn't a nice way of phrasing it, but she's not entirely wrong. A specialist in the city probably would be in a better position to help Billy than a doctor from rural Tennessee.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gus, after hearing how Charles had paid off his debt, is so moved and ashamed that he moves to make peace with Grandpa, and buys him back his daughter's music box, which he had sold to pay him off. He also appears very chivalrous given how he acts around Aunt Agnes
    • Aunt Agnes to a fault. While she loves Billy, she sees material happiness before motherly love. She also falls for Gus, despite being the walk of life she looks down upon.
  • Karmic Jackpot: After permanently giving up her Christmas voice to help Billy speak again, Annabelle is rewarded years later by Santa granting her other wish to be one of his reindeer.
  • Loving a Shadow: It's pretty clear that Aunt Agnes loves the idea of a picture-perfect, well-behaved child like Billy, not Billy himself, and she certainly doesn't care whether or not he wants to live with her.
  • Make a Wish: In this case, Christmas wishes. Annabelle initially wishes she could be a reindeer and fly with Santa, but instead decides to give Billy his voice back by giving up her own.
  • Meaningful Name: Star, owing to the star-shaped mark on her forehead. Scarlet, the mare, for her color. Ears, the Basset Hound, for yes.
  • Missing Mom:
    • It's implied that Bucky and Buster's mother passed away prior to the start of the film's events.
    • Billy's mom, as well as his dad, having died in a huge barn fire.
  • My Beloved Smother: Aunt Agnes. She wants to take Billy back with her to the city because she thinks the farm is no place for him and she wants a child to spoil and dote upon, but there's very little relationship between the two. She treats him more like a pet instead of a child and doesn't respect his desire to continue staying with his grandfather.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Gus, after he learns what Charles did to pay off his debt in return for Annabelle.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted when Agnes steps in the poop of one of the farm animals. Given the size and consistency, Annabelle's mother is to thank for that one.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Billy's grandfather has had custody of him since the death of his parents.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • The Sheriff. He grants Gus' request to possess Annabelle until Charles can pay off the damage done to his fence (which is legally sketchy, but apparently not his call) but he is clearly taking no pleasure in the deed. A year later, he finally prompts Gus' change of heart when he explains how Charles came through on paying him off.
    • Gus is a grump and will defend his boys if need be, but even he has his limits when being lied to and will punish his boys for doing so.
  • Selfless Wish: Annabelle permanently gives up her Christmas voice to grant Billy his voice back.
  • Special Occasions Are Magic: Santa Claus visits a farm and gives the animals the ability to speak on Christmas day, which they have to keep secret from humans.
  • Talking Animal: Santa uses a powder that gives animals the ability to talk for one day. Annabelle gives up all the powder she would get in her life so that Billy would get his ability to speak back.
  • Title Drop: "No Billy. To hear you talk, that was Annabelle's wish."
  • Tragic Keepsake: The music box Grandpa Charles held on to that belonged to his late daughter. He sold it to get the money to pay Gus for damage on a fence accidentally caused by Billy and Annabelle, as Gus threatened to take Annabelle away. When Gus learns about this, he buys the box back from the pawnshop to return it to Charles.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Gus is a rude and sour person who lets his sons be bullies, but Grandpa mentions that he used to be a happy Christmas caroler.
  • Verbal Tic: Annabelle's mother starts almost every sentence with, "Ya see..."
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Aunt Agnes is the closest thing the film has to a villain, but she's snobbish and obnoxious rather than outright evil. She wants to take Billy in as her child for shallow and self-serving reasons (treating him more like a pet than a person) and refuses to accept that he wants to stay with his grandfather, but she doesn't do anything that's technically illegal.
  • Wham Line: Billy, excited by the fact that he can talk, is shocked when Annabelle moos instead of talks.
  • White-Tailed Reindeer: Santa's reindeer look more like wapiti. Including Annabelle herself at the end, after she is transformed from a cow to a reindeer with Jersey coloring. They are also drawn with single, horse-like hooves instead of the cloven hooves real deer have.