PLOT: After a greiving sister and brother attempt to see if Santa Claus is real on Christmas, they set off a chain of events that almost ruin the spirit of the holiday. Can the two save this magical day with St. Nick by their side? I’m sure they’ll figure something out.
REVIEW: Let’s get this out of the way now… Kurt Russell is about a cool as you can get. Even the idea of him playing Santa Claus is kind of a great one. Well if would be if the movie featuring him as the jolly old man giving presents wasn’t so damn lame. THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES is a sappy and silly children’s flick that is reminiscent of the charming Chris Columbus comedy ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING (1987), but with very little heart or charm. The jokes are stale and the sentimentality is forced. This is the kind of holiday gift that should be returned immediately. Thankfully, if you don’t mind a goofy Christmas feature with creepy elves and a simplistic plot, you can give it a try on Netflix – and we always recommend you watch what you like and judge for yourself.
Kate (Darby Camp) and her older brother Teddy (Judah Lewis) are having a rough time after losing their father Doug (Oliver Hudson). Left with two children to raise, their mother Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) does what she can, but she just can’t keep the two civil towards each other. Maybe, by some miracle, that will all change thanks to the magic of Christmas. When Kate convinces her brother to wait for Santa to arrive, they discover that he really does exist. This however throws Santa Claus (Kurt Russell) off his game and things go haywire. The reindeer run away and Santa loses his magical hat – which he needs to deliver presents to all the good girls and boys, or something like that. Will the three be able to save the Christmas spirit of getting a bunch of toys? Well you may care more than I did.
The one thing worth watching here is Kurt Russell. While it is always a pleasure to see the actor play a rough and tumble kind of guy, it’s also entertaining to see him lighten up a bit. As Santa, he is having fun with the role and the usual stereotypes that come with St. Nick. The best scene in the entire film involves him getting arrested and turning the jailhouse into some sort of music video. This was a bit entertaining simply because we get to see him conjure up his inner Elvis once again – the actor portrayed Elvis Presley in the 1979 television mini-series simply called Elvis, directed by John Carpenter. Frankly, it would have been better just to revisit that.
Director Clay Kaytis and writer Matt Lieberman attempt to inject a little modern humor into the film with references to everything from pilates to Ghost Adventures. However, the humor falls flat and the story is so predictable and dull. In fact, the constant modern terms will only prove troublesome for the film as it ages, which I don’t expect it to age well at all. This is the type of movie that has a less than two hour running time but it still drags relentlessly. To be fair, you shouldn’t get too bent out of shape due to an obvious and boring storyline when it comes to a goofy family movie such as this necessarily.
The problem here is that the intentions appear to be good, and both Camp and Lewis work well together as the battling siblings, but it’s an utterly empty Hallmark flick in Netflix’s clothing. Sadly, the acting talent is wasted with lousy effects which include ridiculous looking elves and a whole lot of magical lights swooshing around. If I could say anything else positive, perhaps it would be reasonable to say that the reindeer are adorable. This is simply a film that is made for the young with less discriminating taste, one that parents can put on while you make Christmas dinner. If the children want to give it a go, you may be better off staying far away from this yuletide cheer and wrap presents or something of that nature.
The Christmas Chronicles is a lighthearted children’s fantasy that is big on light, and low on heart. Sure Kurt Russell is always reliable, and he appears to be enjoying himself – keep a look out for a surprise cameo that will surprise no one. There are many other holiday stories that are worth watching. If you feel the need and are desperate to see Kurt as Santa, then I can’t blame you because the thought of it is kind of charming. If only the finished project wasn’t so lackluster. This will probably do very well for Netflix, and we’ll probably get a sequel, but frankly, it just didn’t work for this viewer. Personally, I’d rather have just gotten coal in my stocking.