I'm probably the right age for this film, I remember seeing it when I was nine which seemed to catch me at a point where I'd accepted that Santa hadn't existed for a few years but I still had that sense of childhood wonder which made me like the possibility of Father Christmas.
Watching it again recently it's something of a mawkish wreck of a film which is completely saved by a surplus of good cheer and Richard Attenborough at his grandfatherly best.
The central thrust of the film is kind of interesting, it's just not particularly well handled and there's never any real menace to the film or doubt that this guy really is Santa. I'm imagining that the older film was probably a little more grey around this area because really I can't imagine such a toothless film being made twice.
Having said that some of the moments in the film, like the deaf girl meeting Santa, are so over the top in their sentimentality that they actually kind of work.
It does have possibly the worst example of the 'precocious devil child' which blighted a ton of movies in the 90s (this is probably something which happened all the time, but growing up I was probably hyper aware of them at the time). Seriously each time Mara Wilson appears on screen and does her 40 year old trapped in an eight year old routine I half expect the music from the Omen to start playing, so fucking terrifying.
It also has James Remar as a slimy 'neer-do-well' who is seemingly employed to be nothing other than a 'neer-do-well'. I'm used to seeing Remar as a thug in movies so when he didn't try and break Santa's kneecaps I was kind of disappointed.