We live in a time of broken promise and frenzied lifestyle, not the best of times to contemplate the meaning of Santa Claus.
Most good things are best left alone, and "Miracle on 34th Street" is surely one of them. As much as any one of us might secretly hanker for simpler times, nothing about 1994 invites sentimentality. We live in a time of broken promise and frenzied lifestyle, not the best of times to contemplate the meaning of Santa Claus. 47 years ago, things were very different.
1947, the year of the original, cried out for such a movie. In a world weary of war and eager to address something insubstantial at last, Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, and Natalie Wood created a cheerful tale about Kris Kringle, a kindly old man whose mission was to kindle belief in the spirit of Santa Claus. The notion appealed to a culture newly ready to be charmed.
So the fault in this movie lies not with the actors or the writing, but with the people who decided to dress it in contemporary clothes. Movies reflect the culture of their times. Dropping remakes from one culture into another is risky business- -as Warren Beatty has just learned with his remake of "An Affair to Remember." What worked then almost never works now.
For those of you who plan to go anyway, look forward to Richard Attenborough as a very fine Kriss Kringle. He is wrapped in a gentle vulnerability that seems to come from an earlier time. You may also enjoy Mara Wilson as Susan, a full-blown five year old skeptic. Her comment on the dinner scene she is sharing with her divorced Mom and potential stepdad: "This is like TV except I need a brother and a dog."
Film Critic: JOAN ELLIS
Word Count: 273
Studio: 20TH CENTURY FOX
Rating: PG 1h54m
Copyright (c) Illusion
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