The movie opens with Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) getting upset that the Macy’s Santa is slightly intoxicated, proving that Kris Kringle is an intolerable prig. Alcoholism is a disease, Santa. Perhaps the only thing this guy had to look forward to in his miserable life was the brief, shining moment during his day when he could play Santa Claus. And now you just got him fired. Right before Christmas. Ho, ho, ho. Jerk.
Now that Macy’s has no Santa, Kris steps in to fill the role (how convenient). Listen, if this guy is the real Santa, doesn’t he have better things to do? Like prepare for the one day of the year when he has to deliver toys to every single good kid in the world? I’d think he wouldn’t really have time to fill in at Macy’s, but what do I know? Kris promptly messes up on his first day by sending parents shopping at every store in town except Macy’s. I was brought up to respect the company that puts food on my table every year, but clearly Kris was raised by woodland elves and has no concept of loyalty. (I’d bet if Santa’s stupid elves quit to take a better job at, say, the Lego factory, he wouldn’t feel quite so magnanimous about recommending other companies.)
Macy’s event director, Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara), has told her daughter, Susan (Natalie Wood), that Santa Claus isn’t real. Susan takes this as permission to yank on Kris Kringle’s beard, which should have put her on the naughty list right there. She tells Kris she doesn’t believe in Santa, adding fuel to the naughty fire. Then she asks him for a house for Christmas. A house! Heck, when I was a kid, I didn’t even ask Santa for a Cabbage Patch Kid because I thought it was too expensive of a gift to request. (Santa brought me one anyway, because he's magical. but not rich, kid.) This spoiled, disrespectful beard-puller has a lot of nerve!
As it turns out, when you go around telling people you’re the real Santa Claus, someone is bound to think you’re reality-impaired. The Macy’s shrink (and since when does Macy’s employ psychiatrists?) has Kris committed. Doris’s boyfriend Fred (John Payne) convinces Kris to take his case to court, because America is the land of frivolous court cases, after all. Fred gets the US Postal Service to dump 40,000 tons of junk mail in the courtroom, and because now all of the court officials have to spend their holidays cleaning up the mess, they forget about convicting Kris.
On Christmas morning, we have a moment of glee when Susan wakes up to find she didn’t get a new house for Christmas, but our joy at her misery is short-lived. Doris, Fred, and Susan take a drive in the country, and break into an empty home that Susan assumes is hers. (Even if it is, that’s a lot of responsibility to lay on a kid. Between maintaining the property, paying the taxes, pest control, and all the other fun things that come with home ownership, there’s no way this snotty little brat can keep up with the house on her own. Good thing her mom has roped Fred into proposing.) Honestly, Santa: it’s okay to tell a child “NO” when their Christmas gift requests are completely unreasonable. A HOUSE! In the spirit of Christmas, let me just say: what in Christ’s name are you thinking, giving a CHILD a HOUSE?
Overly sentimental, unrealistic, and too indulgent of children: I give Miracle on 34th Street two candy canes down.
From The Storyside this week:
A new ebook single release from Rob Smales: "Carol of the Bells"
Fabulous free fiction: "The Sleep Thingy" by David Daniel