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. 🙂
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.
“What do you mean you want a Minion for Christmas?“