Starring: Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins, Mara Wilson
Director: Les Mayfield
Running Time: 114 mins
Miracle On 34th Street is an American film about a young girl who, after meeting a kindly old man claiming to be the real Santa Claus, must prove that it’s really him.
Remaking a beloved, decades-old Christmas classic like Miracle On 34th Street is no small task, but as far as remakes go, this film is a real delight. Far from a modern reinvention of a beloved tale, this remake retains the original’s gorgeous, wholesome goodwill, all the while impressing with a whole host of wonderful performances throughout.
You could say that the film lacks a certain originality, at times coming across as a carbon copy of the original, but with such a perfectly wonderful story, what would you want to change? If you loved the ’40s classic, then this ’90s remake will prove an absolute delight, but not just because it’s the same film made all over again.
Yes, the premise and story are pretty much the same, but this remake has rather a different feel to it. Although it retains the cosy, wholesome atmosphere that makes the original such a warmly enjoyable watch, there’s a little bit more Hollywood theatre at play in this remake, and that brings another level of fun into the mix at times too.
Particularly as the movie builds up to its legendary final act, that more modern sense of theatre becomes even more apparent, as the stakes around our young lead’s relationship with the lovable Kriss Kringle are raised to typical Hollywood proportions, bringing a little more fun and peril to what, in the original film at least, was sometimes a little more mellow.
In all honesty, that mellow, calm nature in the original is something that I still treasure, but it’s a real joy to see the same wonderful story being told with a little bit more Hollywood magic, something that comes through in the form of a delightful musical score and some truly splendid performances.
The film is full of Christmas magic through and through, and nothing embodies that better than Richard Attenborough’s gorgeous turn as Kriss Kringle, the endlessly kind-hearted man who professes himself to be the real Santa Claus.
Much like Edmund Gwenn’s unforgettable interpretation of the same character in the original, Attenborough’s performance is so full of festive joy and kind, heartfelt emotion that your heart will melt in seconds. Alongside, Mara Wilson is lovely as the precocious young girl who must help to prove his identity, and works well alongside in a less-than-usual on-screen coupling, but it’s Attenborough’s performance of pure goodwill that really makes this such a wonderful film.
Overall, I thought Miracle On 34th Street was an absolute delight. Filled to the brim with gorgeous, heartfelt and wholesome Christmas joy, it’s a wonderfully enjoyable watch from beginning to end, complete with lovable and memorable performances that turn a similar remake into a film that stands as an undeniably charming watch on its own, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.