Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
December 11, 2014 10:35 PM - Subscribe

A little girl discovers dreams do come true if you really believe. Six-year-old Susan has doubts about childhood's most enduring miracle - Santa Claus. Her mother told her the "secret" about Santa a long time ago, so Susan doesn't expect to receive the most important gifts on her Christmas list. But after meeting a special department store Santa who's convinced he's the real thing, Susan is given the most precious gift of all - something to believe in. Directed by Les Mayfield, starring Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, James Remar, Mara Wilson and Robert Prosky.

This movie is a remake of the 1947 classic. Currently at 61% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Can you stream it?
posted by the man of twists and turns (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This movie is part of the Holiday Movie Club
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:48 PM on December 11, 2014

Mara Wilson no longer acts on screen (by choice) but does some stage and voice-over work. She has a good, albeit infrequent, blog. Fans of Welcome to Night Vale may know her as the voice of the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:56 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I guess I get the reasoning, but I still don't quite understand why studios remake beloved classics rather than near misses. Why not find a movie that was interesting but flawed (not enough money, casting mistake), rather than one that will be almost impossible to top?
posted by Chrysostom at 6:57 AM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

If you'll step into the bathroom here and have a look in this bowl, you'll see my review...
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:14 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Okay, seriously, though. I wish I'd paid more attention that this movie was going to get its own thread, because I said a bunch of this in the thread on the original.

But here goes...

The good:
-The casting. Richard Attenborough was a nice pick. No one could top Edmund Gwenn, but Attenborough acquits himself nicely. Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, and Mara Wilson are also all terrific.
-The update of the Santa speaks Dutch scene to a Santa speaks ASL scene. Very nicely done.
-This movie has Allison Janney in it. Always a plus.-This movie has JT Walsh in it. RIP, sir.
-The montages of the people of NYC supporting Santa are very 80s (and yes I know this is from '94, but still) but they're kind of great for expanding the world of the film, too.

The bad:
-The horseshit ending to the trial. (I should just drop the mic and walk away, because positively anyone could tell you this movie irrevocably shit the bed on the ending.) Why is it bad? Well, to start with, there was literally no reason at all to change the glorious ending. None. Next, there's the squicky way the movie pushes a very Judeo-Christian faith message in its place and the court, for no plausible reason, laps it right up. In the original, Gailey's post office gambit is brilliant because it does not ask either the judge or the legal system in general to believe Kris is actually Santa, it just provides a loophole so they can declare him such and send this lovely little old man on his way without ruining Christmas. What does the remake ask of them? To say, "Welp, guess some shit just can't be proven, like Jesus, amirite?"
-The heinous overuse of halo spotlights on the heads of the good and beautiful. Start watching for it. You'll be cracking up within five minutes, as people in dark bedrooms are lit like the Archangel Gabriel across the pates of their heads from no discernible light source.
-Attenborough's teeth. Lovely man, but holy SHIT did this huge ass Hollywood production not have $30 for some teeth whitener> It's like he has a mouth full of goddamned corn.
-The dropping of the psychiatrist plot. I suppose they though they were streamlining things and having some fun expanding the store rivalry plot, but the movie suffers for its omission. And it's not like they handled the threads about commercialism with half of the nuance and grace of the original.
-That fucking wedding. Virtually all of the romance in the original was implied, which managed to both shield kids from the ick of old people in lurve and to make it subtle. But a church wedding on Xmas? Chrissakes.
-The way Kris is written. Mostly, he's great. But in the original, Kris was written in such a way that it was entirely possible (if not, to older viewers probable) that he was a kindly and resolutely harmless old man whose generosity and good spirit helped people discover the spirit of Christmas, rather than the actual literal Santa Claus. But in the remake, by removing his backstory from the old folks' home and limiting his interactions with non plot central characters (by removing the Alfred and Sawyer sideplots, for instance) they turn him into a sort of wandering cypher, who either actually is Santa or is an ambling, senile coot who sort of ended up the focal point for a lot of other people's personal crises through little except dumb chance.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:37 AM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

Random trivia: The glasses worn by Richard Attenborough in this movie were worn by Nick Frost in the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special according to this mildly spoilery interview with Frost.
posted by plastic_animals at 11:32 AM on December 12, 2014

My parents love this movie (and hate the original, which I do like) and every year I get nerd rage over the courtroom scene. Especially the fricking "I ask the court to judge which is worse: A lie that draws a smile or a truth that draws a tear." NO. THAT IS NOT FOR THE COURT TO JUDGE. ALSO, THE LIE. THE LIE IS WORSE. *tears hair, rends clothing* it makes me so angryyyyyyy.
posted by insufficient data at 12:38 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also, if you ask someone to marry you and they are completely shocked by it, you have taken a wrong turn somewhere. Ugh.
posted by insufficient data at 12:40 PM on December 16, 2014

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