Most helpful critical review
Something so much more than an average holiday film
on December 27, 2000
Having seen the 1947 version of this movie- I must say that it seems to me that the 1947 version set the groundwork for the story, but THESE are the sets of actors meant to play the parts. The best actor, of course, is Richard Attenborough, the gifted director of ''Gandhi'', and a superb, truly sweet actor. His Santa Claus represents something Edward Gwenn's does not. His Santa Claus is a SYMBOL of faith, a symbol of believing in a magical world of childhood and keeping it alive inside of your heart. His St. Nick project genuine innocence, kindness, and oozes vulnerability. He seems to be the only true figure untouched by the evils and selfishness of the world. Elizabeth Perkins is heart-rending as a cold, formal, non-believing mother. She brings an icy calmness to her cool, almost unlovable Dory Walker. Maureen O'Hara (in th 1947 version) did not project the coldness or the cyncial appearance that Perkins does. When St. Nick explains to her: '' I am not only a person but a symbol. All who cannot believe in me are doomed to a life to cynicism and have no escape from the actual world'', she later stands and cries softly in an elevater. That was a very moving scene. Dory has buried every bit of hurt at the loss of her husband so she can remain strong for her young daughter (a hauntingly sad Mara Wilson). Dylan McDermont is Brian Beddford, a man who is ALMOST perfect in every way- except even he, in a sense is a non-believer. He cannot truly have faith in his friend, nor does he take his friend's claims to be Santa seriously. He is a kind-hearted, but slightly cold adult. The heart of this movie is truly in it's explaination of Santa Claus- so much different from the predictable 1947 version. This movie goes deeper than the previous film (it involves a dollar bill and the words '' In God we Trust''). This film actually ACKNOWLEDGES there is a Santa Claus, the old film simply delivers mail form children stating that THEY believe in Santa. St. Nick here is heavily symbolic of innocence and utter sensitivity- of childhood hopes, and unburied emotions. Also the chemistry between Brian and Dory is tangible. In short: Watch this film if you want a new idea of the true meaning of Christmas, and the true power of believing in Santa Claus.