Miracle On 34th Street (1994) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are. This is her second review after Sixteen Candles. Thanks for the reviews, Abbi! Let’s see what she thinks of Miracle On 34th Street. 🙂

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Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

I have to start off this review by saying it’s fricking weird to watch a Christmas movie in March. It feels completely weird and wrong and probably has somewhat skewed my experience of this remake of the 1940’s classic, which I have unfortunately not seen.

Anyway… Dorey Walker (Elizabeth Perkins) is a very practical woman who works for a big New York department store, which is under threat from some local Poundland type stores that want to take over. What Coles has over the discount stores is its history and its Thanksgiving parade leading up to Christmas… which would of course be a disaster without Santa.

On the day of the parade the Santa Dorey has hired makes a bit of a tit of himself and it’s left to a passer-by who calls himself Kris Kringle (Richard Attenborough) to step in and save the day. He’s so good that Dorey convinces him to take over as Coles’ full time Santa.

In the meantime Dorey is being courted by a handsome lawyer named Bryan Bedford (Dylan McDemott), who gets on fabulously well with her six year old daughter, Susan (Mara Wilson). Dorey is nervous to commit though.

Influenced by her pragmatic mother, precocious Susan doesn’t believe in Santa… although when she meets Kris, she starts to change her mind. Could he really be the man himself?

Mara Wilson is utterly adorable as Susan and it’s hard not to completely fall in love with her. She just seems so utterly natural and unaffected. Attenborough is also thoroughly charming as Kringle but it’s kind of hard to really get attached to the rest of the characters. At the same time I struggled with why Dorey was stalling so hard with Bryan. He seems like the nicest man on earth. Possibly if she had more of a backstory explaining why she was so sceptical of him it might have worked better.

I get the feeling that if I were fully on board with the Christmas spirit I would have been able to let myself just get carried along with the whole thing but on a particularly warm March day it just seemed like a bit of a stale Panetone, which went on and on and on. I think on the heels of Home Alone Hughes decided it was time to become the king of the festive classic but by this stage of his career he had lost his mojo a bit and it’s not a patch on his awesome teen movies, where he really is the king.
2/5

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What do you mean you want a Minion for Christmas?

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CPD Classics: Big (1988) Review

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A note before I start the review:

Since starting this blog, I’ve only reviewed movies I’ve just recently watched instead of attempting to review old favorites of mine. This felt too difficult for me as I’m not always great with words & feel like I won’t do these movies justice. I’ll attempt to do very SHORT reviews (probably on Fridays) where I talk briefly about what I like about some of my favorite films or films I think deserve a bit more recognition than they get (be warned: there will probably be a lot of 80’s movies because of my age). In most cases, I won’t be re-watching them as I know them so well. I’m starting with Big as I did re-watch that recently.

Big (1988)

Directed by Penny Marshall

Starring:
Tom Hanks
David Moscow
Elizabeth Perkins
Robert Loggia
John Heard
Jared Rushton
Jon Lovitz
Mercedes Ruehl

Running time: 104 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
12-year-old Josh Baskin makes a wish to be “big” on an old carnival fortune telling machine after he’s embarrassed in front of a girl he likes when he’s told he’s too short for a ride. To his surprise, he wakes up the next morning as a 30-year-old man.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

I was in my early teens when this came out & remember going to it in a group with several relatives as it was such a hugely successful family film at the time. I feel like there are very few “family” films like Big these days. Nowadays it would star an Adam Sandler-type instead of someone like Tom Hanks and the humor would be so dumbed down and immature that only the youngest members in the audience would enjoy it while they’d throw in an occasional “dirty” joke to try to entertain the bored adults. The family would walk away from the film (after it’s predictably sentimental ending) with maybe the kids thinking it was okay but the adults just glad that they got to rest for a couple hours while their kids were entertained.

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Big appeals to everyone between the ages of 8 and 108. I liked it as a (moody) early teen, my mom liked it, my aunt liked it, my grandma liked it. Everyone liked it in 1988, right? It was a nicer time. The film is wholesome without being annoyingly so (I mean, there’s even some PG boobies-in-bra action). Tom Hanks is on top form as a 12-year-old stuck in the body of a 30-year-old and I can’t imagine anyone else nailing that role the way he did. He’s brilliant and totally believable. We don’t get a bunch of stupid high jinks – we get a young boy who at first is very scared then slowly starts to do his best to adjust to his new life as an adult. We never forget that he’s 12, though, even as we see him mature after getting his first job and “girl”friend – Hanks plays the role perfectly from start to finish. And how loveable was he as we watched this “big kid” playing with toys & spending his paychecks on all the stupid things a 12-year-old boy would and getting the pretty but uptight female co-worker to loosen up & jump on his trampoline?? And then there’s the big piano scene! You have to love Hanks & Robert Loggia dancing on the big piano and playing Heart & Soul. If you don’t love that, I want to hear from you in the comments below! That scene is an all-time classic.

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Big is a heartwarming coming-of-age comedy with a character who behaves in a very realistic way to an unrealistic situation. We never forget that we’re watching a 12-year-old boy and the movie doesn’t treat the audience like idiots. It appeals to all ages by telling a simple story in a simple way and having a lot of heart and soul. That’s why it’s a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 8/10

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