film 2 of 6

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

Draft Review by Dean Duncan Apr 10, 2015

This is the remake we’re talking about:

May I tirade?

Hollywood mainstream product can be so terribly bland! so contrived in its stories, so typed in its characters, its more generic stabs at writing and directing so lacking in any kind of convincing detail, authentic gestures or interactions, so seemingly lacking in an awareness of how humans think and act and are!

I don’t much like the sainted original, frankly (q.v.), but there’s no way that updatings like “you can kiss my…” or having little girls scream at the cleaving of fat men’s buttocks could possibly represent anything remotely relevant or improving; Ms. Perkins seems to have had a vaseline clause in her contract; the romance is terrible, the antagonism so caricatured that its defeat carries no heft or resonance or meaning–Hollywood’s 1930s populists used to love their villains a little bit, allowing for convincing conversions that left hope for redemption, along with their telling critiques of actual villainies;

The big frame-up is awkward, the tossed off music video (Aretha Franklin?) makes Kris’s rehabilitation much too easily, with the result that it leaves us unconvinced and uninterested, the court stuff’s completely wooden, J.T. Walsh should leave that snarly ghetto, and by the end Attenborough’s left simply grimacing in bristles or jollies; still, he’s actually worthy of Glenn (even if Hughes the calculated and grubbing producer [as opposed to the half-charmingly vulgar auteur of the very very early days] isn’t much worthy of anything anymore), he makes you wish he’d act more, and the shameful visit with the deaf girl is actually a complete tour de force of treacly pleasure, the little girl is cute, the “in God we trust” resolution is nicely attempted, and the quick wedding and house aftermath isn’t so badly judged.