“The Christmas Chronicles 2” stars Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis, Jazhir Bruno, Julian Dennison, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Released on Netflix on November 25, 2020, the film has Santa Claus attempting to save the North Pole from a mischievous troublemaker.
The film is directed by Chris Columbus, who also directed films such as “Adventures in Babysitting”, “Home Alone”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, “Bicentennial Man”, and “Pixels”. It is a sequel to the 2018 film “The Christmas Chronicles”, which was produced by Columbus. You know what will make this year’s holiday season great? Seeing Kurt Russell in a Santa suit. You know what will make it even more special? Seeing Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn as Mr. and Mrs. Claus. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, and it’s not even Christmas yet. Two years ago, Netflix released a small film that turned out to be a better-than-expected holiday comedy. From its enjoyable story to Kurt Russell’s performance as Santa Claus, “The Christmas Chronicles” was able to become the next Christmas tradition. In fact, it was successful enough to generate a follow-up, which proves that people just can’t get enough of Santa Kurt. Despite a few issues, I did manage to enjoy “The Christmas Chronicles” when it first came out, mostly because of Russell and its yuletide tone. This gave me a perfect excuse to check out its sequel, which has real-life couple Russell and Hawn reprising their roles as Santa and Mrs. Claus respectively and Chris Columbus taking over as director instead of Clay Kaytis, the director of the first film. Does it have enough holiday cheer to justify its existence? Let’s head on down to the North Pole and find out.
Taking place several years after the first film, the story once again follows Kate (Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Lewis), two siblings who are now grown into teenagers. Their mother Claire (Williams-Paisley) is now in a relationship with her new boyfriend Bob (played by Tyrese Gibson) and in typical fashion, Kate is not happy about it. During a family vacation, Kate, along with Bob’s son Jack (Bruno), unexpectedly gets transported to the North Pole, where she reunites with the jolly man himself, Santa Claus (Russell). When a troublemaking elf named Belsnickel (Dennison) threatens to cancel Christmas forever, it’s up to Kate, Jack, Santa, and Mrs. Claus (Hawn) to save the holiday once again. This is another “race-against-time” type of film that’s in the same veins as its predecessor, but with a few differences. Most of the action takes place in the North Pole instead of in the city, it features an antagonist in the form of Belsnickel, and Teddy Pierce is left sitting in the sidelines while his young sister sets off to save the day. Apologies to those who enjoy Judah Lewis in the original. What I liked about “The Christmas Chronicles” was that despite its cheesy kid-friendly quality, it delivered a buttload of Christmas charm into its harmless story and its heartwarming messages. Oh, and also Kurt Russell’s fresh take on Santa Claus. “The Christmas Chronicles 2” offers more of the same, which would make some fans very happy, but just like any other sequel to a smash hit, it fell short of being as cheerful as the original. Most of the stuff that made “The Christmas Chronicles” a holiday hit on Netflix was present in the sequel, such as its corny, yet adorable, Christmasy charm and a message that should resonate well with those who are dealing with the possibility of a blended family. Another thing that hasn’t changed was Kurt Russell himself. His performance as Santa was once again the best part of the film, and his chemistry with Hawn (who also delivered a respectable performance as Mrs. Claus) made his presence just as sweet as a candy cane. However, as far as storytelling goes, the film became a bit too corny for its own good. The plot was very formulaic and generic, the dialogue was a bit bland, and the relationships between some of the characters were pretty weak. I also had some issues with the film’s CGI effects. While some of them looked tolerable, the rest of the effects looked floaty as heck, like they’re not consistent with the kinetic kid-friendly action that was represented in the film. I’m not the only one who noticed this, right? Another small flaw I had was the supporting cast. They’re not entirely awful, but I wouldn’t say that they’re as highly enjoyable as Russell and Hawn. Darby Camp and Jazhir Bruno both did all right as Kate and Jack respectively, although I would like to see more of them together in order to fully develop their relationship. Julian Dennison, who is known for his roles in “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and “Deadpool 2”, made himself known onscreen yet again, this time as a villainous elf whose heart is filled with heartache and naughtiness, and I had to say that this was sadly his weakest performance of his career so far. I thought Belsnickel was a fine villain, but the way Dennison delivered some of his lines wasn’t as convincing as I thought it should be. It just felt forced to me.
Overall, “The Christmas Chronicles 2” is a formulaic holiday follow-up whose corniness may have pushed itself a bit over the edge. However, if Chris Columbus’ goal was to make a harmless family film that’ll fill people’s hearts with Christmas joy and happiness during this difficult time, including mine, I think he did his job fairly well. It doesn’t compete with the likes of his other holiday comedy “Home Alone”, but it does have plenty of good moments that I enjoyed, such as Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, aka the real stars of the show. Despite its generic story, a mediocre supporting cast, and its lackluster CGI, I believe the film is suitable enough for people who enjoy its predecessor and for those who are in need of some holiday cheer this year.