By and large, Christmas movies are laughable, unwatchable rubbish (Love, Actually – I’m looking at you) but there is one exception: Miracle On 34th Street.
Unlike other Christmas movies that are simply set in the festive period, this one is actually about Christmas without being cynical, over-the-top or a vehicle for the main star to be ‘hilarious’ (Elf, I’m looking at you).
Miracle On 34th Street is a giant bear hug of a Christmas movie that you can, and should, watch over and over again.
It’s poignant without being preachy, sweet without being schmaltzy and it should go down in history as the best Christmas film of all time.
It shows a kick-ass single mum
The depiction of a hardworking single mum is way ahead of its time.
Dorey Walker is a total champ: she has raised her daughter Susan to be street-wise but polite; she balances home life with a successful career and holds off a relationship with hunky next-door neighbour Bryan to put daughter Susan first.
Considering the original was made in 1947, it’s pretty progressive stuff.
There is no movie in history that has not benefitted from the presence of Richard Attenborough.
Here he plays Kris Kringle and twinkles off the screen.
There’s a hot male lead
Step forward, Dylan McDermott.
And you wonder why your mum was so happy to let you watch it on a loop.
The scene with the deaf girl
A mother brings her young daughter to visit Santa, and quickly leans in to warn him that her daughter is deaf, adding ‘she just wanted to see you.’
Santa proceeds to sign and they sing Jingle Bells together.
Honest to god, I can’t get through it without crying.
New York at Christmas is the stuff of dreams
I’ve never been to the Big Apple for Christmas but in my mind, this is what it looks like.
It’s not all sickly sweet
It definitely has the feel-good factor but there are some darker themes bubbling under the main plot: divorce, corporate greed and questions about faith that still seem relevant today.
It has a cute kid actor who can actually act
Mara Wilson, who plays Susan, is not just adorable but she can actually act.
She has excellent comic timing and plays the only child of a single mum with just the right amount of resignation.
Wilson makes this film.
Daphne from Frasier
All the best movies – Christmas or otherwise – have at least one character you recognise from something else, even if it takes you the whole movie to work out.
In Miracle On 34th Street we get Jane Leeves, AKA Daphne from Frasier, as an evil business associate of the main baddy.
A blink-and-you-miss-it cameo
If Daphne wasn’t enough, Allison Janney (star of The West Wing, Juno and Mom) pops up as a disgruntled mother who berates the department store owner.
It will make you believe in Father Christmas
What could be better than that?
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