Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
By Sierra Filucci,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Not better than the original, but still smiley holiday fare.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The courtroom scenes provide a few historical lessons on the origins of the Santa Claus story.
Explicitly positive messages around faith in things we can't prove, an appreciation for magic and mystery, the importance of fantasy in children's lives, and the value of helping loved ones. Some mixed messages here because Santa talks a lot about how Christmas is about faith and generosity, but is squarely focused on what gifts children want.
Positive Role Models
Kringle is a model of generosity and kindness, though he's a bit hotheaded in this film. The young girl acts intellectually older than her age, but also uses her own judgment to decide her beliefs about Santa. The mother is guarded, but her heart warms near the end.
Violence & Scariness
Kringle gets very angry with a fake Santa and in one scene knocks him down with his cane after the man baits him by suggesting he is a pedophile.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The romantic relationship between the mother and her friend the lawyer is a strong thread throughout the film. They kiss several times. He proposes marriage. And at the end the film suggests she's pregnant.
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Several angry arguments occur through the film, some which include language like "fool," "big fat fake," and "cripple."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Fake Santa drinks from a liquor bottle before he gets into the holiday parade sleigh. One brief scene shows a room full of men dressed as Santas drinking beer and acting drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this treacly holiday film introduces the idea that Santa Claus might not be real, and comes to the conclusion that he is indeed real. The film includes several mild physical altercations between Santa Claus and another man, including one where Santa knocks the man down with his cane. A fake Santa is seen drinking alcohol and one brief scene shows a bar full of men dressed as Santas drinking beer and some acting drunk. A fake Santa's pants slip down a bit as he climbs a ladder, revealing the top of his rear end. A bit of mild language and yelling pops up.
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Where to Watch
Based on 6 parent reviews
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Curiously depressing, and disappointing
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What's the Story?
Like the original 1947 version, this film tells the story of a young girl (Mara Wilson) and her mother (Elizabeth Perkins) who do not believe in Santa Claus. When the mother, who works for Cole's department store, hires Kris Kringle (Richard Attenborough) to play Santa Claus in her store, their worlds change dramatically. Kringle insists he is the real Santa Claus and becomes the delight of shoppers when he begins to point them toward other stores that have sales on the gifts they want. This turns into a brilliant marketing scheme, angering the rival chain of stores. The rivals set out to first steal Kringle away from Cole's, and when they fail, they bait him into a fight. He ends up in a mental facility and then before a judge where his psychological stability is to be determined. The hearing ends up being about whether or not Santa Claus exists, which debates the concepts of faith, imagination, magic, generosity and childhood innocence.
Is It Any Good?
This remake stays pretty true to the original and so contains all the sentimental elements that can be very enjoyable for children and adults. The Kringle character is appealing and the precocious child is funny and sweet. The other adults in the film are less appealing and the remake does little to improve upon the original. This version has a bit of a darker streak, too, delving deeper into the idea of corporate greed than the original.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Santa Claus and other magical figures. What do we believe about these figures and why? Do you think believing in things you can't see or prove is important? What other things do we believe in even though we can't see them?
What other tales about Santa Claus do you enjoy? How are they similar?
- In theaters: November 18, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: October 31, 2000
- Cast: Dylan McDermott, Elizabeth Perkins, Richard Attenborough
- Director: Les Mayfield
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Holidays
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild language.
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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