Kurt Russell plays Santa Claus. That should be all you need to know about The Christmas Chronicles going in. That’s definitely all I knew, and, quite frankly, it’s the only reason I bothered watching it. Luckily Russell doesn’t disappoint. Unluckily, everything else does.
Everybody who’s seen a film with Santa Claus in it has seen the plot of this movie before: two siblings who haven’t been getting along since their father passed away catch Santa Claus on tape during Christmas Eve and accidentally put Christmas spirit in danger by stranding Santa by himself without his reindeer or his sack of toys. Now they must go on an adventure to save Christmas and….. I think you know where this is going.
Films like The Christmas Chronicles have a purpose in this world: to entertain children and families. This film will surely do just that. Even though I’m about to be incredibly cynical about the quality of this film, it is just plain stupid fun for the kids if that’s the type of film you’re looking to watch. If not, well strap in, because this movie is a one-way trip through the world of mediocrity and tired cliches. Kurt Russell is adequate in the role of Santa Claus, but he’s nowhere near enough to make the film any better than all of these other forgettable Netflix Christmas movies.
The sad part about Russell in this role is that it’s a genius idea. When I first heard he was playing the iconic character, I was intrigued because it seemed like a perfect fit. If the writing of this film was better then it could have been great, but instead Russell is wasted here, as is the actress who plays Mrs. Claus (it’s kind of a cameo, so I won’t spoil it for those who want to watch it). There are one or two scenes here that show the potential that Russell beings to the role, such as a flashy musical scene in a jail cell. I just wish the rest of this slog had been as daring as that one scene instead of sticking to the same tropes that have been milked for years.
The main characters other than Santa Claus are boring and badly-acted, such as the two kids who find Santa and get themselves caught up in an adventure. The backstory involving their dead father is so damn cheesy that I actually laughed out loud whenever it was brought up onscreen, which was quite a lot in the first act specifically. The amount of times that something completely unrelated will be going on when the father is suddenly brought up by one of the two kids is very high. If I took a shot for every single time the kids inexplicably mention him, then I’d be dead of alcohol poisoning by the fifteen minute mark.
The Christmas Chronicles also has more plot holes than a Transformers movie, but I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything different from a movie about Santa Claus, who is basically a giant plot hole. There are obvious inconsistencies in the story of Santa Claus that everybody is aware of, and this film does nothing to address them. It just assumes the kids watching the film are stupid enough to look over these plot holes. One development that especially pissed me off is near the end of the film. I won’t spoil it for the two people that are dying to see it, but it essentially renders all of the events that the audience just sat through pointless. It is obvious that the writers are attempting to be clever, but it instead comes across as contrived and annoying, and I face-palmed when they revealed it.
This film isn’t worth watching. I love Kurt Russell, but he isn’t enough to save this film, especially when there are next to no redeeming qualities. The few creative ideas that the writers inject into the story (the elves, the bag full of presents, etc.) are overshadowed by the glaring plot holes that surround them. Films like Arthur Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street give far more unique perspectives on Santa Claus, and there are countless more Christmas movies that show this one up in every way. If you are interested in Russell as Santa Claus, then just find the jail cell scene on YouTube and move on with your day.
I give The Christmas Chronicles a D+.