Kris Kringle, Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus, whichever name you call him by for many of us he is the cultural symbol of Christmas. For every generation of moviegoer they have had their definitive big screen version of the Big Man in Red. For some it’s Edmund Gwenn in Miracle on 34th Street. Others it may be Tim Allen in The Santa Clause. Heck, Bill Goldberg in Santa’s Slay is bound to be someone’s favorite right? All of those may be true, but two year’s ago a new Red Suit entered the picture, played by the one and only Kurt Russell. The Christmas Chronicles was a massive holiday hit when it Netflix on November 22, 2018. Now two year’s later Russell is joined by his real life Mrs. Claus, Goldie Hawn, in a new holiday adventure, The Christmas Chronicles 2. With Chris Columbus (Home Alone) now in the director’s chair, do we have another Christmas classic in our hands?
“I think it should be called Mrs. Claus’s Village.”
Set two years after the first film, young Kate Pierce (Darby Camp) is on tropical vacation over the Christmas holiday with her older brother, Teddy (Judah Lewis), and mother, Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley). The Pierce trio are joined by Claire’s new boyfriend Bob (Tyrese Gibson) and his son, Jack (Jahzir Bruno). Kate, unable to enjoy the tropical vacation during Christmas, tries to run away back to Boston to spend the holidays at home. On her escape, Kate is thrown into a time vortex by Belsnickel (Julian Dennison), an evil elf who has vowed revenge on Santa Claus. Joined by a stowed away Jack, Kate finds herself back in the North Pole alongside Santa (Russell) and Mrs. Claus (Hawn). With the help of the Christmas couple, Kate and Jack must save the star of Bethlehem from the grasp Belsnickel and prevent the dastardly elf from ending Christmas forever.
If that plot synopsis doesn’t sound crazy enough, the film also includes exploding gingerbread cookies, time travel, and Kurt Russell playing saxophone in an airport. Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of the craziest PG movies released in a long time. Much like the original, this film leans full force into vibrant world it has created. We get to see more of the North Pole in this film, which also means more time with Santa’s elves. The elves again are scene stealers. As a family film we of course get the comic relief characters, much like The Minions in the Despicable Me series. For my money, the Santa’s elves from these movies run circles around Gru’s little yellow friends. They provide laughs for the entire family, and their overall cute design would even turn the Grinch’s frown upside down.
“I’m going to make everybody forget that the North Pole and Santa Claus ever existed.”
Speaking of these little elves, the film’s main antagonist Belsnickel unfortunately hangs over the film like a lump of coal. Julian Dennison made his big break with 2016’s The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and recently appeared alongside Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool 2. With his performance in this and Deadpool 2, the young star has been unable to capture the magic that sparked critic’s minds in 2016. This does not fall entirely on his shoulder’s though. Belsnickel is very underwritten, and the lines Dennison is given have been said numerous times by countless cinematic villains. Fortunately this does not take audiences out of the entire film, as we still get Snake Plissken as St. Nick.
Kurt Russell is a national treasure. Before 2018 who would have thought he would make a perfect Santa Claus? Russell is just that, a perfect Santa. He has the undeniable charm, warmth, and the perfect beard to play the fat man. For the first 15 minutes of The Christmas Chronicles 2 I had my doubts on this film, but then Russell rides in on his slay chasing a Yule Cat (you heard that right). From this point forward you are invested for the rest of the film. Joined along for the ride is Russell’s real life partner Goldie Hawn, who again is perfect in the role. This Mrs. Claus feels like a warm blanket over the entire film. Though her name may be Mrs. Claus, she is very much the equal to Santa. Hawn gets in on the action, and develops a charming friendship with young Jahzir Bruno.
“You’re on hallowed ground here.”
Bruno and Darby Camp provide a great youthful spirit to the film. Camp, who had great on screen chemistry with Russell in the first, provides the same in the sequel. Her arc in the film, though cliché, still is heartwarming and a great message for kids. There is a moment in the time travel portion of the film that is tear-jerking even for the coldest of hearts. The arc for Bruno’s Jack also is perfect message for kids, and one that sure would make the Cowardly Lion proud.
What makes this sequel work and hold it’s own against any modern family film is the direction by Chris Columbus. No stranger to family films, having directed the first two Home Alone and Harry Potter films, Columbus knows the balancing act that is a family picture. The Christmas Chronicles 2 relies on most of it’s adult charm on the performances of Hawn and Russell, while the characters beats and storyline lean more towards the kids side. Speaking of Home Alone, during the previously mentioned time travel sequence, Columbus subtlety reminds the audience that yes indeed he is the Home Alone guy.
The Christmas Chronicles 2, is it as good as the first? Yes, yes it is. The first film was a fun family holiday film backed by charismatic performance by Kurt Russell. The sequel has the added benefit of Hawn featured in the entire film, and Columbus behind the camera. If you and the family are looking to take a break from watching Elf or The Grinch during this holiday season, The Christmas Chronicles 2 is the perfect family holiday picture to put on.
Overall Score 3/5
The Shameless Plugs
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