The Christmas Chronicles

The Christmas Chronicles
The Christmas Chronicles
Directed by Clay Kaytis
Starring Kurt Russell, Darby Camp and Judah Lewis
On Netflix November 22nd, 2018

by Alex Plant

It’s 2018. Santa Claus is sexy, he calls out “fake news” and his elves do that weird floss dance that populates everyone’s Instagram stories. If these concepts aren’t screaming “Christmas Classic” to you, then perhaps The Christmas Chronicles isn’t likely to fill you with Christmas cheer this holiday season.

Christmas-loving Katie (Camp) and teenage-tearaway Teddy (Lewis) are facing their first Christmas since their firefighter father was killed on the job. After catching a glimpse of a red-suited arm dropping a present under the tree on an old home video, the pair hatch a plan to try and catch everyone’s favourite soda mascot in the act on Christmas Eve. This leads to them stowing away in the not-so-fat-man’s sleigh, giving him quite a fright and causing him to crash his souped-up whip, lose his magical hat, bottomless sack and candy cane loving-reindeer in the process. Can the unlikely trio get Santa back on course to save Christmas morning? And just what manner of hijinks will they get into along the way? If you’d guessed “hackneyed and tedious” then congratulations! Help yourself to a present from under the tree of clichés.

Let’s be honest. When you first heard Kurt Russell was going to be playing Santa and then saw just how resplendent his beard was in that first promo image, you must have known that the movie you were picturing in your head was way better than the inevitable schmaltz you were probably going to end up with. Don’t get me wrong, the part fits him like an incredibly sexy fur-trimmed red leather jacket. He’s clearly having a whale of a time and the moments where he addresses sceptical adults as the children they once were are certainly charming. However, it just doesn’t deliver on Russell’s star-power and there’s something slightly uncomfortable about seeing him perform a blues number in a jail cell with Steve Van Zandt, also featuring backing vocals from what are, presumably, prostitutes. On top of this, the Minion-ification of Santa’s elves, coupled with their clearly Frozen-inspired nordic design, feels decidedly sceptical as well.

It’d be easy to pick holes in this movie’s logic, it is as after all a Christmas movie. But good Christmas movies have an innate re-watchability that intertwines them with the other traditions of the season. Despite having the sexiest Santa ever (sorry, Paul Giamatti) The Christmas Chronicles is simply an unremarkable retreading of familiar tropes and clichés. However, there is a bigger issue here. As one unsubtle moment of corporate synergy reminds us, this is a Netflix film, not really intended for cinemas. It feels like it was specifically designed to be put on in the background while you’re wrapping presents, or preparing Christmas dinner. It’s certainly not good enough to be distracting, so in that regard, it’s perfectly functional. But if you’d rather keep your holidays free of this particular brand of scepticism then perhaps just rewatch Elf or Home Alone for the millionth time instead.

 



 

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