Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Movie Review: "The Christmas Chronicles" (2018)

Director: Clay Kaytis
Year: 2018
Rating: TV-PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

On the first Christmas after the death of her father, Kate is going through some old home videos where she thinks she caught Santa Claus on tape. She and her older brother Teddy set up a trap to get definitive proof that Santa exists, which leads them on a wild Christmas adventure they never expected.

The Christmas Chronicles 2018 movie still Oliver Hudson Kimberly Williams-Paisley Darby Camp Judah Lewis
"People need Christmas to remind themselves how good they can be.(Image Source)
What's important at Christmas changes depending on what movie you watch. "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown" gives a traditional religious meaning of the holiday, while "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" tells us that the season is about love and togetherness, not gifts. "The Christmas Chronicles," however, lets audiences know that what it's really about is presents! This film is directed by Clay Kaytis, who was the director of the shockingly not terrible "Angry Birds Movie." Written by David Guggenheim and Matt Lieberman, the story revolves around two siblings, Teddy (Judah Lewis) and Kate (Darby Camp). Their father (Oliver Hudson) passed away earlier in the year, and they are about to embark upon their first holiday without him. Teddy has fallen in with "the bad crowd," while Kate remains hopeful and optimistic that she and her older brother can be friends once again. While going through some old Christmas home movies, Kate sees what she believes is Santa Claus on one of the tapes, so she convinces Teddy to help her get proof that Santa actually exists. Their meddling puts Christmas in danger when it appears that half the country will go without presents, plunging the world into utter chaos. This leads the two on a crazy adventure to save Christmas with St. Nick (Kurt Russell) himself. 
The Christmas Chronicles 2018 movie still Kurt Russell
"I don't go "ho ho ho," that's a myth. FAKE NEWS!" (Image Source)
We don't know how many times we have said this throughout history, but if it weren't for Kurt Russell, "The Christmas Chronicles" would be a lot worse than it is. People are sure to love this movie off the bat because it is whimsical and goofy and sentimental. They will dismiss any criticisms we and others have had because it's "so0o0o0o cute." Cute is one thing, but is it cute and good? Well, it starts out a little rough as a series of generic home videos of Christmas morning after Christmas morning are played to give exposition about the members of the Pierce family. Even before the montage ended, we knew what was coming: the death of Pierce patriarch Doug and the breaking up of the traditional family dynamic, sending this once picture-perfect family into ruins. The year after Doug's death, the house and Christmas tree remain undecorated, and all the cheer has been sucked out of the family. Can you really blame them? Losing someone you love any time of the year is bad, but when it's right before or during the holidays, it stings just a little bit more. Teddy has become a criminal, and at one point, he commits a felony with his friends, but that's okay, boys will be boys!!11~~ Kate is the last remaining spirit of Christmas in the Pierce family since mother Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) is too busy with work to spend any time with her kids. This part of the movie is generic and tired and sappy just to get a sad reaction out of the audience. We rolled our eyes on more than one occasion in the first portion of the film because we've seen it all before. Give us something new. Perhaps more felonies? Then, so lively and quick, Kurt Russell shows up as Santa and things start to get significantly better. Russell gets to have some situationally funny moments as he tries to get help Kate and Teddy, but people other than these two youngins start thinking he is just some crazy old man, leading to even more shenanigans. Russell's wit and charm are enough to make a lot of these moments work where any other actor may have taken the picture in the exact opposite direction. From this point on, we get what is essentially an "Ernest Saves Christmas" meets "Get Santa" type of story full of cheese and ooey-gooey sickly sweet sentiment. The film does have some decent visual effects, especially for a Netflix film, until the elves show up looking super cartoonish, which makes the latter half look like something in the vein of "Norm of the North." There are some nice touches here and there that delve into the magic of Santa and his ability to carry toys to all the children of the world. Still, the overall story does seem a touch too focused on the materialistic side of Christmas where the failure to get presents means the absolute destruction of all Christmas spirit and would literally plunge the world into violence and chaos. That being said, it eventually turns itself around and there is a little heart under it all. The ending props up what we found to be a mediocre yuletide yarn.
The Christmas Chronicles 2018 movie still Darby Camp Judah Lewis
"Come on, Teddy, you know it's him!" (Image Source)
"The Christmas Chronicles" is a weird but semi-sweet little movie. It provided us with a mixed bag of a viewing experience. One thing we know for certain is that without Kurt Russell, this zany Christmas comedy would have floundered.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.3/10
RT Rating: ~68%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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