Starring: Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, J.T. Walsh, James Remar
The classic tale about a department store Kris Kringle who spreads the joy of Christmas by making a cynical little girl believe in Santa Claus.
Anyone skeptical of updated retreads of Christmas movie classics may be genuinely surprised by this 1994 version of Miracle on 34th Street. Based on the 1947 holiday classic, this new Miracle sticks close to the original's story, though it offers more contemporary, crisper pacing and a tone curiously more reflective--even sorrowful--than before. Richard Attenborough is charming and twinkly as Kris Kringle, the part that won Edmund Gwenn an Oscar. Mara Wilson is the little New York City girl who doesn't believe in Santa Claus until Kris persuades her otherwise. Elizabeth Perkins is her hardened mother, and Dylan McDermott plays the handsome lawyer next door who defends Kris during an insanity hearing. While screenwriter John Hughes has toughened up the dialogue a bit, and McDermott's intensity looks like a dry run for his then- future role on television's The Practice, this Miracle is as persuasively sweet as the one previous. --Tom Keogh