Chris Colombus, the director of gems such as Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire, might just be mentally stuck in the 1990s in this holiday schlockfest.
A couple of years ago I reviewed The Chrismas Chronicles, a Kurt Russel action-hero flick disguised as a Christmas holiday movie. An odd blend of Hallmark family moments that paid homage to Kurt Russel’s action hero career in movies like Escape New York,what made the movie oddly fantastic was in its tough-guy Santa Claus. A man all about checking things off his naughty list in really funny and oddly entertaining ways.
Which is why it’s incredibly befuddling that The Christmas Chronicles 2 does away with all of that in the first half-hour of this nearly two-hour movie. Instead, focusing in on its supporting characters, with a boring plot about embracing new types of family, and little motivation or pull outside the awestricken Santa lore this movie tries desperately to establish. For some very strange reason, this movie is less action-hero and more outright fable fantasy. Like a terrible version of Lord of the Rings or even the movie Thor, as this sequel’s entire drive lies in its overdone CGI and more importantly, its Christmas magic.
There is a lot of magical fantasy in this movie that nobody asked for in any way, shape, or form. Items like the elven forged Star of Bethlehem, Santa’s natural acumen for Christmas Sourcery, and tons-and-tons of elves. Cute Furby-looking Pikmen Smurfs, which are creatures with their own language and culture, and even have a Gargamel type of character taken off the Belshnickel of lore. Which reminded me about that episode of The Office. An episode which I honestly wished I had been watching instead, several times throughout this movie.
In the original Christmas Chronicles, Kate and Teddy Pierce, after losing their father, go on a quest to help Santa Claus finish delivering presents to children across the world. Hijinks ensue but ultimately they save Christmas. All in a simple plot completely driven by Kurl Russel’s Santa.
In this one, it’s less about saving the day and more about all-out warfare (yes I’m just as confused by that sentiment as you are)? As a story unfolds about how the talented Belshnickel the elf (played by Julian Dennison) pulled a Lucifer against Santa, believing himself better than the humans his kind slaved away for. In turn, he was cursed and turned into the one thing he hates the most: humans. Saddened by this Belshnickel seeks to usurp Santa’s role and desires to create his own Chrismas empire in the South Pole.
It’s ridiculous. But it doesn’t fully ruin a movie in a title such as this. So to make it even better, the story begins in a bizarre plot in Cancun Mexico where Kate spends Christmas with her potentially new stepbrother, Jack. Kate doesn’t like her mom’s new boyfriend and somewhere along the lines, the themes of embracing new family and change come to mind.
Well, Belshnickel ambushes Kate and Jack, hitching a ride to the North Pole to execute his plan to steal the Star of Bethlehem. Which for some reason, has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with empowering Santa’s village with magic. Also, Santa really is the literal Saint Nicholas, who not only gifted presents to the good, but also led a Moses-like exodus of the Elves into the North Pole, as an Elven Messiah of righteousness.
And sure, I can explain to you how Kate’s mom is trying to get their life on together, or how what’s-his-face, the boy who was the main character spends all of his time on the beach with some hot girlfriend he’s made completely ignoring a majority of this story (which is sort of what we wished we were donig), or how Kate, who still desperately seeks to remember her dad this Christmas, ends up pulling a Back-To-The-Future where she meets her dad in the 1990s all while Santa generates the holiday cheer in a rockin’ tribute to power his Sleigh DeLorean and get back to the future. But none of this really matters does it because you know just as well as I do, this movie has gone off the rails.
Still Considering Watching This… Really?
Well if you need more detracting reasons, there’s also excessive amounts of CGI, a Goldie Hawn Mrs. Claus who doesn’t know why she’s in this movie outside of motivating the token black kid, and Jola, the angry Christmas cougar. Oh and there’s a drug called Elfsbane that gets the Elves high and turns them into murderous zombies, in a beautifully cookie-filled action sequence accompanied by the masterful musical workings of The Baha Men’s, “Who Let The Dogs Out?”
It occurred to me that this movie feels an awful lot like a failed script written by Colombus in the year 2003. Especially, given all the ridiculous references to the Will Ferrell classic, along with the movie Bad Santa, both unsurprisingly, 2003 Christmas movies.
I will say though that even though this was in no way a good movie by modern standards, as a mindless Christmas film… I actually think it still does enough to get the job done. Because honestly, for holiday movies the plot doesn’t really matter, and for what it’s worth, I think the actors did the best with the material, boring and ridiculous as it may be. If you hold it up to Hallmark standards 5/5 high-quality entertainment for the kids, hands down. Just be ready for the disappointment if you wanted more Kurt Russel action like I did.
This movie reminds me of The Babysitter sequel. A sleeper hit with a semi-built in audience featuring a bigger actor that ended up being downplayed in the sequel. Whereas Babysitter virtually all but axed Samara Weaving, Christmas Chronicles at least kept Kurt Russel, albeit in a slightly smaller role. Though where he and Goldie Hawn take the stage is where this movie shines and becomes semi-bearable in a cute way. Downright fun too if you’re into corny Christmas moments of song, dance, and cheer.
If you love ludicrous Hallmark movies with sentimental moments layered with too much sweetness, watch it. If you love Christmas movies watch it. Otherwise, I’d skip it.