‘Tis the season for Christmas movies—but unless you’re up for cheesy one-liners, subpar child actors and a smooth-talking Santa who winds up in prison, you might want to stay away from Clay Kaytis’ “The Christmas Chronicles”.
This Netflix original takes place on Christmas Eve and follows young, optimistic Kate Pierce (Darby Camp) and her teen brother Teddy (Judah Lewis) as they plan to catch Santa Claus (Kurt Russell) on film but end up hitting a few obstacles along the way.
What begins as a plot to prove Saint Nick’s existence turns into a mission to save Christmas itself, and the Pierce siblings must help Santa find lost possessions including his sleigh, reindeer, hat and other items necessary for the holiday.
It seems like a cute, family-friendly holiday flick on paper, but doesn’t quite make the cut in execution—it watches like a Disney Channel movie, but the subject matter flirts with topics too heavy for children. Sometimes it’s unclear who the intended audience is—is this a kid’s film or not? And did they really just make that joke?
Russell’s Santa is a bit rough around the edges: He’s slim, hates when people ask him to say “Ho, ho, ho,” or comment on his lack of a large belly, and doesn’t mind talking back to police officers. This last antic gets him thrown in a jail cell for a portion of the movie—he creates a band of criminals and together they sing an odd, sultry version of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (renamed “Santa Claus Is Back in Town”) to pass the time. Why? We’re not sure. It’s a question you’ll ask yourself through much of the film, as the story asks you to stretch your suspension of disbelief beyond what’s normally required in a Christmas movie.
In short, “The Christmas Chronicles” is a deviation from Netflix’s reputation for providing top-notch entertainment. But the motion picture does get one thing right: the elves—arguably the cutest, fiercest rendition of Santa’s helpers to date. Each one is hot under the collar and ready to drop gloves at any moment, yet there’s no denying you’d certainly want to cuddle one upon meeting it.
At the end of the day, the streaming site’s latest holiday selection is one you won’t mind missing. The few cute sibling moments and late onslaught of heroic elves make “The Christmas Chronicles” watchable, but aren’t quite enough to mark it as notable among other yuletide favorites.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars