Miracle On 34th Street (1994) : A Study In “What The F*ck Were They Thinking?”

10 Dec

Somewhere, back in 1994 or 1993… or whatever… a meeting was held. In this meeting, super important people who drover super important cars, and who undoubtedly had much puffier hair than they would ever think of having today, got together and decided to bring Miracle on 34th Street into the modern era.

Now, this was not an awful idea in and of itself. It wasn’t the first time that the story was remade, and there are countless versions of other Christmas classics, which we don’t hate just because they’re not our preferred version. Granted, Alastair Sim is the only man to play Scrooge in my opinion… but others seem to like different versions and that’s fine. I’m willing to accept people of all beliefs, even if they are guano crazy.

But then, something happened. At some point along the way, one of those people—whether it be the writer, the director, the producers, the studio heads or Satan himself—decided that they would enrich this classic Christmas tale by first showing us some fat dude’s ass and then bringing the concept of pedophilia into this heartwarming tale.

I’m not a prude. I’m not a puritan who faints at the sight of plumber’s crack. I may quickly look away and bang my head against the wall in the hopes of inducing amnesia, but I think that’s probably pretty common, right? But I’m not one of those crazies who cries foul every time an unmarried couple holds hands on television.

That said, Miracle on 34th Street is a movie that the whole family should be able to sit around and watch together without children being exposed to the drunken Santa’s ass and without parents having to explain to their kids what kind of inappropriate touching Santa is being accused of.

These movies are classics because of the heart of the story. We connect to them because they bring us to a warm and cozy place that makes the Christmas season feel somehow different than the rest of the year, when we are subjected to every horror that the world has to offer. We don’t watch Miracle on 34th Street to remind ourselves that pedophiles are out there and that children are quite possibly sitting on their laps, getting their picture taken in the middle of the mall. We watch that movie for the very purpose of forgetting that old fat dudes in Santa costumes are trying to prey on little kids. Can you imagine rewriting that classic Christmas letter to say, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he might want to do some very creepy things to you, so you better stay away”? Kinda loses the appeal, right?

For the sake of keeping this somewhat short, I will refrain from going into the parts of the movie where the weird neighbor guy (who only became weird once the concept of pedophilia was brought into the movie) shows up in his robe on Christmas morning, with a creepy smile on his face, having just knocked up the little girl’s mother… but don’t worry, they got married in the middle of the night, when apparently nobody was keeping an eye on that poor little (possibly molested) girl.

Now, let’s get to the end of the movie. That part where in the original version, we have mailmen carry bags upon bags of letters to Santa into the courtroom and dump them on the judge’s desk. It’s iconic. It’s as much a part of that story as Santa inappropriately touching—wait, that never happened in the original. Never mind. But it was a big part of the original movie, right?

In the 1994 version of the movie, this scene is replaced by having the little girl walk up to the judge and hand him a Christmas card, right before he announces his decision. It’s a weird scene which seems awkward for a number of reasons. But within this card, there is a dollar bill, with the phrase “In God We Trust” circled. The whole point of the movie comes down to telling the target demographic of this film (the Christians who are celebrating Christmas) that their God is pretty much akin to the actually-nonexistent Santa Claus. Umm… way to play to your audience, fellas.

The movie was bad for a number of reasons, which all seem to boil down to the point that those who made it did not understand either the appeal of the original, or the audience that they were writing this movie for. It highlights the reason why there have been so few truly classic Christmas movies made in recent decades (I’m thinking The Santa Clause and Prancer and… umm… That’s pretty much it. And that was me really stretching the term “recent decades”). Is Hollywood capable of creating something with heart these days? When they try, it usually turns into a political message, which doesn’t sit right in this type of movie, even if you do happen to agree with them. Do they know the meaning of Christmas? Do they know how to avoid being d-bags in general? Or are most movies today made by people who have no heart, or no soul, and therefore cannot possibly tap into those resources for the sake of making a movie that warms the heart like the original Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life?

And with those deep thoughts in mind, I leave you to your hot cocoa and warm blankets, so you can gather around your TV and watch the cast of Glee bastardize classic Christmas songs.

If you value your sanity, watch the Christmas episode of Community instead.

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2 Responses to “Miracle On 34th Street (1994) : A Study In “What The F*ck Were They Thinking?””

  1. sajkinbigd September 22, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    What about Bill Murray’s “SCROOGED”? Possibly my very favorite Christmas movie, ever! Even moreso than “Batman Returns” and “Die Hard”.

    • authorkyleandrews September 22, 2016 at 10:06 am #

      Scrooged is an excellent movie. I have no idea if it is an adaptation, a remake, an homage or a sequel, but it is great!

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