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"MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET"
(1994) (Richard Attenborough, Mara Wilson) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild None Mild None None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None Minor None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor Minor Minor Minor Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A department store Santa Claus believes he's the real thing.
PLOT:
Dorey Walker (ELIZABETH PERKINS), a single mother, works for Cole's department store and during the Thanksgiving Day parade, finds herself in the need of a replacement Santa Claus. Spotting a man, Kriss Kringle (RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH), who looks like he'd fit the bill, she asks if he'll fill in. He agrees and becomes such a big hit that she hires him to be Cole's Santa through Christmas. He couldn't be happier, since he believes himself to be the real Santa Claus. Dorey's precocious daughter, Susan (MARA WILSON), doesn't think so as she doesn't believe in Santa. She gives Kriss a chance to prove himself, however, as she wants nothing more than a home and a real family, which in this case would include Bryan Bedford (DYLAN MCDERMOTT), Dorey's sometime boyfriend. But Kriss has more problems to deal with and they come from a competitor shopping chain chaired by Victor Landbergh (JOSS ACKLAND). Landberg wants to buy out Cole's and he gets his assistants Jack Duff (JAMES REMAR) and Alberta Leonard (JANE LEEVES) to falsely accuse Kriss of being insanse. It's then up to Bryan, in a court of law, to prove that Santa Claus really does exist.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Probably, but parents should note that this is geared more for adults (not because of the content, but because kids will be bored with it) than for children.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
The MPAA reasons were not available, but we would guess that it involves a brief glimpse of a man's bare butt and for what they like to call "thematic elements."
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH plays Santa and is as loving and caring a role model as you'd ever want.
  • ELIZABETH PERKINS plays a single mother who's afraid of commitment and thus spurns the man who really loves her.
  • MARA WILSON plays a precocious young girl who wants nothing more than to have a complete family.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
    While some will scoff at the idea of a remake of the original film, this is a fairly enjoyable version of the story. Attenborough, with his now trademark, easy grandfatherly way easily fits the bill as Santa Claus and Mara Wilson is as precious and precocious as ever. It's too bad she's not seen more often in the film since this is a story about Christmas and Santa. The rest of the cast is okay, but no one stands out from the crowd for their performance. Our biggest complaint is the over use of dramatic lighting throughout the production. It's as if the director was going for that old film look where the eyes of people are lit just a bit more than the rest of their face, and there's so much backlight used on Perkins' head you'd think a lamp was attached to her back. Other than that, the plot moves along and proves to be an enjoyable diversion for an hour and a half. We give it a 6.5 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    There's not much to object to in this film, but parents should be aware that kids will find this production lacking in anything that will keep their attention. Only the scenes with little Mara Wilson will prove to be interesting and there aren't that many of those. Regarding the content, a man's partially bare butt is seen as his pants slip down and there are two scenes involving drunk and/or drinking Santas. The "bad guys" have the stereotypical attitude to bring down the competition, but none of it's too bad. You should be ready for questions about the existence of Santa from children who are unsure, and Santa's arrest by the police might be confusing to them. We suggest, as always, that you read through the category listings to make sure that this film is suitable for your family.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • A man dressed up as Santa takes a swig of whiskey and Kriss notes that the man is drunk.
  • A bunch of men dressed up like Santas are seen in a bar drinking beer.
  • Wine is consumed with dinner.
  • We learn that Dorey was married in college to a guy who then developed a drinking problem and left after Susan was born.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • When describing her ideal "family home," Susan says that they need a "fat person" as the cook.
  • The CEO of Shoppers Express will do anything to lower Cole's department store sales, including setting up Kriss to look like both a bad and insane man.
  • We learn that Dorey was married in college to a guy who then developed a drinking problem and left after Susan was born.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Nuts," "Loon," "Big jerk," "Pain in the butt," "Big fat fake," "Goof ball," "Numb nuts," and "Sorry old cripple."
  • Susan sticks her tongue out at the prosecutor of the court case.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There is just a minor bit of suspenseful music in one scene.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 2 hells, 1 incomplete "kiss my..." and 1 "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A drunken man dressed as Santa climbs onto a parade float and part of his bare butt is seen as his pants partially come down.
  • A man talks to Kriss saying, "You've got a hot little helper here don't you, Santa? Is she the one who puts the twinkle in your eye?"
  • That same man asks Kriss, "Do you have a thing for little ones? ‘Cause they're not much good for anything else."
  • SMOKING
  • Jack Duff smokes a cigarette.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Dorey is raising Susan by herself and Susan tells Kriss that she doesn't have a dad.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Whether Santa Claus is real or not.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Kriss raises his cane as if to whack a drunken man dressed up as Santa, but is stopped by a police officer.
  • The drunken Santa falls backwards as his sleigh becomes unbolted from the float and he lands on the street.
  • Kriss raises his cane and tries to strike that same man again (who's said bad things about Kriss and little kids). The man catches the cane, but acts like he's really hurt and falls to the street feining unconsciousness.



  • Reviewed December 7, 1996

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