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One Movie Punch

Dec 1, 2018

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to the podcast. This will be the second of two episodes today as we’re working to get caught up from the fire. I’ll be continuing my story from the wildfire evacuation in a minute, but if you haven’t heard the earlier segments, hit pause, then go back to my review for “Outlaw King” (Episode #314) for the first segment, then listen every episode after that for another installment. Let me know you’re listening by sharing this episode with #WelcomeBackOMP.

Last segment, our daughter left with our neighbors to get out of the house, and after a bit of cajoling, so did my spouse and I. We had been putting off a few errands, and took care of as many of those as possible. Any reason, really, to be out of the house. Weird, isn’t it? We felt so displaced by the initial evacuation, and yet, three days after returning home, we just had to get out of there. It was day seven of the fires by us at that point, and we were checking about seven sites worth of information every thirty minutes, just in case we had to rush home and repack. Our daughter was having a blast, texting us every now and again. As we slurped our ramen in town, one of us began searching the sites again, and the air quality was quickly tanking outside, now that the wind was shifting the other way. You wouldn’t know if you were outside, but air quality isn’t always about what you can see. And with that, we paid our bill, then headed back home, to wait some more.

More on the story from the fire tomorrow.

Today’s movie is “The Christmas Chronicles” (2018), the Netflix Original holiday film directed by Clay Kaytis and written for the screen by Matt Lieberman and David Guggenheim. The film follows Kate Pierce (Darby Camp) and her older brother Teddy (Judah Lewis), who attempt to capture a picture of Santa Claus (Kurt Russell). Their plan leads to a larger adventure with the big man himself.

Spoilers ahead.

So many new holiday films on Netflix this year. I’ve reviewed two so far: one was a hit; the other a near-miss. I have at least a few more to go, including watching last year’s “A Christmas Prince” (Episode #338) in anticipation of the sequel. If you want my thoughts about holiday films in general, you can check out the previous reviews for “The Holiday Calendar” (Episode #313) and “The Princess Switch” (Episode #327). I’m still looking for this year’s best holiday movie, and unfortunately, I still haven’t found it yet, although today’s movie gets closer. 

“The Christmas Chronicles” reminds me a lot of “Home Alone”, “The Santa Clause”, and a string of other Christmas films from the 1990s, which kept the mood light, the story moving, and the magical holiday realism palpable everywhere. Kurt Russell stars as Santa Claus, who has crashed his sleigh on Christmas after being surprised by Teddy and Kate, and apparently has lost his magic hat, making Christmas nearly impossible to finish. Now, what follows from that? A red car chase. A stampede of reindeer. A magical trip to get assistance from animated elves. And a race to save Christmas, followed by a surprise appearance by Mrs. Claus. Everything is pretty well done, and it doesn’t take any risks it can’t handle. Kurt Russell is fun and worth seeing as Santa. Darby Camp and Judah Lewis are fine in their roles. Good pacing, great timing, and easy to digest, especially after a large Christmas dinner.

So, why not a higher score? Well, in my opinion, the film hamstrings itself at the end, when we learn that Santa had his magic the whole time, and that everything else which has happened was just a morality quest for the two kids. No real peril at that point, so no real investment, although we should probably be concerned by an old white man taking two children across state lines in general. Holiday films are known for their deus ex machina endings, so it’s not a surprise, but it immediately depressed my enjoyment, and I realized this would be a “one and done” holiday film. An enjoyable one, but not something that needs to be seen more than once.

“The Christmas Chronicles” (2018) is a fun and rollicking Christmas film, with Kurt Russell turning in a fun performance as the big man himself. Supported by Darby Camp and Judah Lewis, this film delivers a pretty standard holiday story with decent dialogue and strong messaging. Fans of holiday films, or Kurt Russell, should definitely check it out this season for some good laughs and fun for the whole family.

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%

Metacritic: 52

One Movie Punch: 7.0/10

“The Christmas Chronicles” (2018) is rated TV-PG and is currently streaming on Netflix.