MIRACLE ON 34th STREET Sunday 13 November, 2011
Even the most cold-hearted of cynics (me included) will struggle to avoid warm and fuzzy feelings after watching this.
Why are we cynical about christmas? Is it that we know the secret of Father Christmas? Is it that we know that mega-corporations have hijacked a religious festival in order to get more closely acquainted with our wallets? Perhaps. This film deals with the former and actually puts Father Christmas’ existence to the test in a court of law.
I haven’t seen the original version of this film so I’m talking about the 1994 version which starred Richard Attenborough. In fact there are a whole host of familiar faces dotted through this film. Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’s Arthur Dent (Simon Dent) The Wire’s Judge Phelan (Peter Gerety), The West Wing’s C.J (Allison Janney), Frasier’s Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves), Big’s Tom Hanks Molesting Toy Exec (Elizabeth Perkins), Dexter’s Dad (James Remar) and The Soprano’s Charmaine Bucco (Katherine Narducci). It’s nice to have a christmas films with so many actors who you probably like much more than you realised.
The basic plot is that Richard Attenborough’s Kris Kringle is convinced he really is Father Christmas and as such he ends up in court to decide if he should be sectioned. Along the way we meet the usual characters in need of understanding the christmas spirit. A mum who is so bitter about life that she won’t let her daughter be a child. This daughter is the standard precocious child who is capable of playing her part in courtroom proceedings at the age of six.
In the main this film is engaging enough. It’s well played except for Dylan McDermott who is miscast as a top attorney. It feels like a lower quality John Hughes film which is not surprising when the main man of bearable schmaltz produced it.
Some of the conclusions might miss the point and the conclusion is annoyingly American but on the whole this is a sweet and cosy film to accompany the christmas snacking. You might not want to show it to the very young though because you probably don’t want to open the debate on the existence of santa with a real six year old who is probably not as accomplished a litigator as their screen counterpart.