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Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.