“The Christmas Chronicles” stars Kurt Russell, Judah Lewis, Darby Camp, Oliver Hudson, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Released on Netflix on November 22, 2018, the film has Santa Claus teaming up with two siblings to save Christmas.
The film is directed by Clay Kaytis, who also directed “The Angry Birds Movie” and was the head of animation for Walt Disney Animation Studios. Now that Thanksgiving’s over and done with, it’s time for us to celebrate the next big holiday, Christmas. OK, it’s not actually Christmas yet, but for everyone, it is. One of my favorite Christmas traditions of all time is watching holiday-related films and television specials, such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “Peanuts”, “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, and “The Grinch”. These films and television specials have a unique sense of wonder and charm that always get me into the Christmas spirit, and what better way to experience that again this year than to check out a new holiday-themed movie from Netflix? This latest family-friendly comedy comes from producer Chris Columbus, who was responsible for directing another Christmas movie, “Home Alone”. The film also serves as Clay Kaytis’ live-action debut as a director following his work on animation with Disney and his directorial debut with the film adaptation of “Angry Birds”. Can’t hurt to try something new every once in a while. I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since I first saw its trailer, and from the looks of it, it does provide plenty of harmless fun and charm that the other Christmas movies are known for, but does that make it good? Well, yeah, it does.
Similar to the other family-friendly holiday films, the story in “The Christmas Chronicles” was pretty simplistic. I mean, it’s about a teenager and his younger sister teaming up with jolly old Saint Nick to save Christmas. How can it be more simplistic than that? Sure, it had plenty of ridiculous moments as well as some predictable elements that most people can see coming from a mile away, but if it’s designed to be a fun and cheerful adventure that the whole family can enjoy, it did its job pretty well. The film also has some heartwarming, yet cheesy, messages that kids can relate to, especially siblings. One of my favorite parts of the movie was none other than Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. He put in a lot of effort to make this whole sleigh ride as entertaining as possible while portraying a fresh take on the character, and I wasn’t disappointed. Judah Lewis and Darby Camp also did a suitable job with their performances as Teddy and Kate, respectively. Not as great as Russell, but respectable, nonetheless. As for its flaws, I did mention that the story was pretty predictable and it lacks any major surprises that’ll lure in someone outside of its target audience. However, I’m willing to let that slide because it did its job in making the concept enjoyable for me. I would also like to mention the film’s use of CGI. It’s not as campy or as unrealistic as the visuals from a made-for-television film on Syfy since it has some neat effects, but most of the visual work did feel a bit off-putting at times, especially the elves. Now don’t get me wrong, those elves were pretty adorable, but in terms of the desgins, they look like they came out of a fully computer-animated Christmas film. I guess if the film is completely animated, it would’ve been fine, but that’s just me.
Overall, “The Christmas Chronicles” may not impress anyone who’s on the naughty list, but for those who are in a holiday mood, it’s a sleigh ride that’s worth taking. Aside from its predictable plot and some questionable visuals, the film was able to put itself on the nice list thanks to Kurt Russell’s performance and Clay Kaytis’ passable execution on its bizarre concept. It’s not a perfect film that will be placed on the “Holiday Classic Hall of Fame” or something like that, but for what it is, it’s a nice early Christmas present that I wouldn’t mind opening again in the near future. The film is available to stream on Netflix, so if you’re interested in seeing Kurt Russell in a Santa outfit, it’s worth a watch.