Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Movie Review #5: "Miracle on 34th Street" (1994)

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Movie"Miracle on 34th Street"
Director: Les Mayfield
Year: 1994
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Cole's department store hires a new Santa (Richard Attenborough), who helps turn their dwindling business around. Meanwhile, their competition devises a plan to have him arrested on the grounds of being mentally unstable for thinking he is the real Santa Claus. All the while, a young, skeptical girl named Susan Walker (Mara Wilson) and her mother Dorey (Elizabeth Perkins) learn to believe in Santa.

1994's "Miracle on 34th Street" is a modern remake of the 1947 holiday classic of the same name. It is directed by Les Mayfield, who is known for directing films like "Encino Man" and "Flubber." It stars Elizabeth Perkins as Dorey Walker, Cole's department store's director of special events. She has recently hired a new Santa, who is named Kris Kringle, played by Richard Attenborough, for their annual holiday parade and to work in their department store during the holiday season. He is very authentic, so much so that one may swear he is the genuine article. Joining them is Mara Wilson, who plays Susan, the six year old daughter of Dorey. Susan seems extremely grown up for her age, and her mother, who values honesty, has already told her that Santa is make believe. Of course, Dorey's boyfriend Bryan Bedford, played by Dylan McDermott, does his best to undermine her and convince Susan that Santa is real. When the new Santa helps bolster Cole's dwindling sales, their competitor, Shopper's Express, sets Kris up for believing he is the actual Santa and have him arrested and committed, assuming he is crazy.

This is a pretty straightforward remake of a film with a fantastic original, with only mild deviation here and there. Of course, this version is brought into modern times and the names of the stores have changed. The acting is fine across the board from Attenborough, Wilson, Perkins, and even McDermott. Attenborough is also an excellent casting choice looks-wise as he is quite convincing as Ol' St. Nick. When it comes to the climactic court scene, unfortunately, the entire sequence of events here falls far short of the one from the original. We like to judge each film on its own merits, but what makes "Miracle on 34th Street" so brilliant in the first place doesn't have the same oomph and impact as we'd like. The real question is, why was this remake needed if it does nothing to distinguish itself from the original? In the areas where it does attempt to do something slightly different, it just doesn't measure up. There is still some charm to be had in this remake, but the narrative feels thin and underwhelming. Don't get us wrong, this is an okay movie, but it never really stood a chance since the best version was made in 1947 and has remained a holiday favorite for decades.


My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
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Last Christmas, we were watching: "Jingle All the Way"

Two Christmases ago, we were watching: "The Family Stone"

Three Christmases ago, we were watching: "Elf"

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