Mir­a­cle on 34th Street (1994): Pre­dictable, but Enjoyable

miracle
Syn­op­sis: Kris Kringle must use the assis­tance of a believ­ing lawyer and an unbe­liev­ing mother and
daugh­ter to prove that he is the real Santa Claus.
A gen­tle­man named Kris Kringle is hired to be the Santa Claus for the Cole’s Depart­ment Store Thanks­giv­ing Parade by Dorey, the direc­tor of spe­cial projects of Cole’s depart­ment store, after he exposed the other Santa as a drunk. Because of his great suc­cess at the parade, Dorey hires him to be the Santa at the depart­ment store which causes many peo­ple to flock to the store to see him. His pol­icy of find­ing more afford­able gifts for par­ents out­side of Cole’s actu­ally turns out to be a great mar­ket­ing strat­egy and improves the busi­ness of the strug­gling store as they begin the mar­ket­ing cam­paign: “If we don’t have it we’ll find it for you”. Their com­peti­tor is not happy, so he enlists the help of two per­sons to shut down Cole’s new­found suc­cess (Cole’s new strat­egy can gen­er­ate busi­ness mak­ing it harder for him to buy them out). So, they enlist the help of the drunk Santa, to pro­voke Kris into an alter­ca­tion. This all leads to a court case where Bryan Bed­ford must defend Kris’ men­tal sta­bil­ity in court and to prove he is the real Santa.

Like most Christ­mas movies, this one was about belief…belief in Santa. I won’t go down the long road about how most Christ­mas movies seek to get peo­ple believ­ing in the myth­i­cal fig­ure that is Santa Claus as opposed to the one who the Christ­mas sea­son is really about: Jesus. So, I will sim­ply address the movie. It was a lot about the growth of the char­ac­ters, as opposed to the plot itself (because let’s face it, Santa doesn’t really exist). First, there is the lit­tle girl Susan. Susan is obvi­ously an intel­li­gent young lady, wise beyond her young age but as Santa remarks, her mother’s lack of belief has cer­tainly rubbed off on her. How­ever, I do applaud Dorey’s con­ver­sa­tion with Susan where she tells her daugh­ter that she is free to believe what­ever she wishes and if she (Dorey) is wrong about Santa Claus then she will hap­pily admit it.

miracle1The char­ac­ter of Susan is much like a younger ver­sion of her mother: frank, wise, sees the world as black and white and very prac­ti­cal. But that lit­tle girl in her still wants to believe in Santa and tells Kris that if he really is Santa, he will grant her one thing: a house, a father and a brother. Even this task seems a bit beyond Santa as her father was a dead­beat and she has no sib­lings of note.

By the end of the movie, Susan, despite her ini­tial doubts is able to not only help con­vince the judge to allow Santa to go free (with the help of Bryan) but she comes to believe in him her­self. And, she is suit­ably rewarded for her belief (more on that later).

miracle2Then of course there is Bryan, a hand­some and as we see later in the movie, a very accom­plished lawyer who appears to be in a rela­tion­ship with Dorey. He him­self believes in Santa and that Kris is the real Santa and defends him to the end. I really like his char­ac­ter through­out the movie, as he is a good stand in dad for Susan and also appears to be there for Dorey, even though she seems quite guarded. His deter­mi­na­tion not to give up on Kris, even when he gives up him­self is admirable and he fights for what he believes in. Although his char­ac­ter expe­ri­enced the least growth in the movie, this was due to the fact that he was the most “put together” out of every­one. Despite his faith being shaken for a while due to some bumps in the road with Dorey, even­tu­ally his dream of a fam­ily came true.

Miracle-on-34th-St-11Kris Kringle aka Santa was an inter­est­ing char­ac­ter. Jolly with the kids and the adults but angry when his true iden­tity is ques­tioned, he had an impact on almost every­one and every­thing in the movie. He helped save Cole’s depart­ment store with an unortho­dox mar­ket­ing strat­egy, he man­aged to reach both Susan and Dorey despite their ini­tial unbe­lief and he even man­aged to reach most of the peo­ple in the city as they all came to believe that he was the real Santa Claus. Although I ques­tioned why he was will­ing to give up so eas­ily when his iden­tity as Santa was ques­tioned, this did not last long as his friend Bryan was able to con­vince him to fight. I like the impact he had espe­cially on Dorey, to whom he deliv­ered the movie’s best line:

“If you can’t believe…if you can’t accept any­thing on faith then you’re doomed for a life dom­i­nated by doubt.” – Kris Kringle from Mir­a­cle on 34th Street (1994)

miracle 4And finally, there is Dorey, the most doubt­ful one of them all. Bal­anc­ing, a job (at a store that is on the verge of clos­ing) and being a sin­gle mom, as well as a rela­tion­ship, things haven’t been easy for Dorey. Cou­ple these things with her emo­tional unavail­abil­ity to Brian as well as her lack of faith, and you have one tightly guarded per­son. How­ever, it is easy to under­stand why she is this way, as her past has shaped her lack of faith (her dis­ap­point­ment as a child that Santa did not exist; her hus­band run­ning off on her soon after Susan was born) but her fate­ful meet­ing with Kris that led her to hire him effec­tively changed her life. He helped her believe, not nec­es­sar­ily in him, but the pos­si­bil­ity that she could be happy. She was also the one that went to Bryan to ask him to take on Kris’ case not for her job but because he believed (and maybe she wanted to as well). Her shin­ing moment was when she encour­aged the Cole’s man­age­ment to sup­port Kris in the media dur­ing his trial and not turn their backs on him. These were some pretty big steps for some­one who had the doubts that she did at the begin­ning. Even­tu­ally, due to some med­dling from Kris, she and Bryan get mar­ried, get their house (and pos­si­bly a new baby on the way) due to Susan’s Christ­mas wish.

To con­clude, the movie was enjoy­able. Although most Christ­mas movies tend to be about per­sons believ­ing or not believ­ing in Santa Claus, the plot of this movie uti­liz­ing the use of a court case was dif­fer­ent even if some­what unre­al­is­tic. All in all, it is a nice Christ­mas movie and one for the fam­ily to enjoy. Movie rat­ing 6.5\10.

© Photo 1 taken from Ama​zon​.com
© Photo 2 taken from Phac​tual​.com
© Photo 3 taken from Imdb​.com

© Photo 4 taken from Blogspot​.comt
© Photo 5 taken from Huff​post​.com
© Arti­cle of caribbe​an​dreams​magazine​.com

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