Miracle on 34th Street

1994

Miracle on 34th Street

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

59%

TOMATOMETER

Reviews Counted: 34

62%
liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 55,563

TOMATOMETER

N/A
All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0

AUDIENCE SCORE

62%
Average Rating: 3.1/5

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Movie Info

The 1947 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street is transplanted to the 1990s with few changes in this family-oriented remake. The screenplay by the prolific John Hughes sticks close to the original outline, centering on Macy's executive Dorey Walker (Elizabeth Perkins) and her young daughter Susan (Mara Wilson), neither of whom much believes in the spirit of Christmas. Dorey is in charge of hiring Macy's Santas, including an old man named Kriss Kringle (Richard Attenborough). He does a remarkably convincing job, and he soon reveals that he actually believes himself to be Santa Claus. The authorities threaten to place the old man in an insane asylum, but a young lawyer comes to his defense. Meanwhile, Dorey and Susan find their own defenses melting and become reacquainted with the power of faith. Hughes and director Les Mayfield add a few modern touches, making Susan slightly more cynical and adding the requisite soulless corporate villains. Viewers familiar with the original may still prefer Edmund Gwenn's original Kris Kringle and consider the remake unnecessary, although the newer version reflects enough of the earlier film's spirit to prove entertaining to modern family audiences. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Miracle on 34th Street

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (8)

When [it] remembers that it's supposed to be a sweet piece of hokum, when it has the wit to leave Attenborough and Wilson on the screen together and forget about its rash of putative improvements, it does offer well-scrubbed family fare.

Oct 23, 2018 | Full Review…

The overall effect is enjoyable and cuddly like a warm fire on a cold night. It also harkens back to a bygone, simpler time.

Jul 6, 2010 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

This retelling is loving and gentle and lit like a 1940s musical.

Dec 1, 2008 | Rating: B | Full Review…

The new Miracle on 34th Street, produced by John Hughes and written by him with George Seaton, is a dull project that makes only cosmetic changes in the original.

May 20, 2003 | Full Review…

The movie has been remade by producer John Hughes and director Les Mayfield, who follow the original fairly closely, but with a quieter, more elegiac tone.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Even in this newest incarnation, the film maintains its appeal, especially for those willing to suspend both disbelief and cynicism.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Miracle on 34th Street

"Miracle on 34th Street" has one of the greatest christmas tales of all time at it's fingertips, and it dazzles with humour, sadness, and too many heartfelt moments to count. This film knows what it is trying to be, and therefore, it is one of my favourite christmas films of all time. As one girl is told that santa clause does not exist, she comes into contact with a white bearded man who claims to be the real thing. When he convinces her, she asks him for a new house, a dad, and a baby brother. If she doesn't receive this, then santa clause will not be real to her. There is so much christmas spirit in this film, and every touching moment will bring a tear to your eye. The conclusion will have even adults believing in christmas again. If you have not seen this amazing holiday film, I suggest it be the next one you watch. "Miracle on 34th Street" is a miracle on it's own!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

½

Uplifting and sweet but verging on twee throughout. Full review later.

Thomas Bowler
Thomas Bowler

Super Reviewer

½

A pretty darn awesome remake. It may bring some extra 90's cheese, mostly due to the needlessly dramatic music, and it may be overlong in places, but this certainly works. Attenborough is the only person I could imagine taking over this role. He comes across as a genuinely kind and considerate man, with nothing but kindness in his heart. Like the original, it keeps silent as to whether he is Santa or not. The court scene is particularly funny, with a few fist pumping moments. I'd still pick the original, but if you can't sit your whole family down in front of a black and white film, this certainly doesn't offend the original.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

Richard Attenborough returned to acting after 14 years behind the camera in "Jurassic Park", and followed it swiftly by daring to challenge comparison with Oscar-winner Edmund Gwenn in this remake. As a heartwarmer for those inadequates who won't sit through a 60-year-old monochrome movie-- albeit one which rivals "It's a Wonderful Life" as Hollywood's answer to "A Christmas Carol"-- this John Hughes revamp will probably serve. Anyhow, there are plenty of copies on sale at the checkout of my local supermarket. But it is a bit too laid-back and, latterly, too bogged down in argument for younger kids or older boys. It may warm more cockles among the grandparents. The main thematic interest is how Hughes chooses to tweak the original screen story as adapted (unusually for the time) by the director, George Seaton. Whether he sought to or not, the remake has thrown up some intriguing twists for a more skeptical and secular time. The oldie caught the mood of an America yearning to get back to normalcy amid the perils of the post-war, Cold War world. Location shooting in New York City, with much co-operation from Macys, gave a touch of realism to the fantasy, whereas in 1994 it's an imaginary store and (for Americans, at least) an incongruously "veddy British" claimant to the chair of Santa Claus- although his nationality is not the issue when the legal meanies of the State of New York try to get him confined to the bughouse. What is striking is the judge's rationale for allowing Kris's plea for freedom. Because US bills have "In God We Trust" on them, he reasons, it means New York is allowed to have blind faith in the existence of a supernatural being who lays presents on 1.7 billion children in one night, operating from invisible workshops with reindeer which cannot be made to fly in a courtroom demonstration of his powers because it isn't Christmas Eve. Besides, the sneery prosecutor's kids were raised to believe in him, so there- case closed. In real life the ACLU would be appealing such a judgement all the way to the Supreme Court for allowing too much religion into the law and the public square. "In God We Trust" was only put on the money during the Cold War, to cock a snook at "Godless bolshevism"; but this film is refreshingly disrespectful to the newer orthodoxy of playing down most Americans' beliefs in their films. Kris asks if he should swear in the Bible, the Pope's ruling on Nicholas's sanctity is debated, and the ethos is quietly but unmistakably Christian. No "spiritual" Santa or "Happy Holidays" here. In a very light fashion, the film does revolve issues of how far it is legitimate to maintain a metaphor as a source of inspiration when rationalism of the Dawkins and Hitchens strain is sniping at it. The screenplay also looks quite beadily at the way commercial operators use holy myth to make money, even if the message comes muted from Hollywood. That is the good news. There's plenty to carp at as well. Attenborough's quiet, gentle but firm performance (most atypical of one who spent his previous acting time mainly playing unreliables or martinets) suffuses the film. He gets little competition, save from the contrasted crustiness of Windom. Most of the support is so-so, on the level of a Yuletide TV special, and not excluding little Wilson as the girl who has faith in Mr Kringle's claim to be St Nicholas. She is no Margaret O'Brien, if no worse in her way than the kewpie-doll Natalie Wood. In fact, she's a John Hughes moppet who did little later and nothing since 2000. The narrative's departures from the well shaped original are no help. Once off the legal hook, Kris, wearing a brown suit, just disappears-- we don't see any triumphal sleigh ride to bid him adieu-- while attention shifts to a ridiculous post-midnight-mass impromptu wedding in a Catholic church. Then follows a trip out to a dream house in the snowy country, ushered by a silly salesman. The film does not seem to know when to call a halt, and there's not so much as Clarence's tinkling bell to bring back Kris at the close. It's as if the whole object of the exercise was to unite two bland characters in matrimony.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

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