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.
The 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).
Then 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.
Kris 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)
And 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.
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