FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

* MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET - Updated remake of the popular 1947 comedy, which has achieved minor-classic status with its whimsical tale of a department-store Santa Claus whose claim to be the real Kris Kringle gets tested in court. For all its undeniable charm, the original version is no masterpiece, and the new edition is weaker in every way. It undermines most of its potential laughs with a plodding pace, an overdose of dialogue, and a running time at least 30 minutes too long. It's fun watching Richard Attenborough as the hero, though, and recalling once again what a fine actor he can be when he isn't busy directing second-rate pictures of his own. Directed by Les Mayfield for producer John Hughes. (Rated PG)

* THE SCOUT - Hunting talent in the backwoods of Mexico, a major-league scout finds a dazzling ballplayer whose athletic talent is equalled only by his emotional immaturity. The recruit's troubled past takes the whole movie to get sorted out. Michael Ritchie has directed some of the most savvy satires in memory, such as ``Smile'' and ``Semi-Tough,'' but in this bittersweet comedy he collides with an uneven screenplay that sinks into rampant sentimentality at the end. At least Albert Brooks gets a fine chance to display his comic acting in the title role. (Rated PG-13)

THE SWAN PRINCESS - A swan by day and a woman by night, she's the victim of a sorcerer bent on revenge against her royal father. Based on the old German tale that inspired the ballet ``Swan Lake,'' this full-length animation from Nest Entertainment and Rich Animation is carefully produced and entertainingly acted by a voice-only cast including Jack Palance and John Cleese, among others. In style and content it's an unabashed Walt Disney clone, however. It's shaped by the same cookie-cutter that has stamped nearly every cartoon feature since Mickey Mouse 60 years ago. We're overdue for a fresh vision, and this isn't it. Directed by former Disney filmmaker Richard Rich. (Rated G)

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