Main cast: Kurt Russell (Santa Claus), Judah Lewis (Teddy Pierce), Darby Camp (Kate Pierce), Oliver Hudson (Doug Pierce), Kimberly Williams-Paisley (Claire Pierce), Lamorne Morris (Officer Jameson), Martin Roach (Officer Povenda), and Vella Lovell (Wendy)
Director: Clay Kaytis
Well, well, it’s that time of the month, so of course it’s also time for a Christmas flick. The Christmas Chronicles is the usual tale of some brats discovering the spirit of Christmas after bumping into Santa Claus.
Teddy and Kate Pierce’s father Doug died about a year ago, and now, Kate is the precious ten-year old who runs around with a camcorder and invading people’s personal space, when she’s not writing letters to Santa Claus and doing her best to recreate the last Christmas night with her father. Teddy is the surly teen who has discovered a love for carjacking – a trait that will come in handy later when Santa needs a new ride, so yes, kids, carjacking is cool – and doing his best to act all emo and cynical. Single mom Claire is trying her best to balance making money and being a mom, but that Christmas eve, she has to work at the hospital as it is short-staffed.
So, that night while obsessively re-watching the recording of her family last Christmas eve (when her father was still alive), Kate is startled to see a hand that looks like it belongs to Santa creeping up from behind a coach while the camera was still on but everyone else had retreated to the next room. Could it be that Santa really exists? Let’s just say that our darling has a new mission for the rest of that night, and she even gets Teddy to help her (she has taped him carjacking with a friend – which is why you shouldn’t let creepy girls play with camcorders – so she will give him the tape and never tell their mother if he agrees to help her).
Sure enough, Santa Claus exists, and the two kids stow away on his sleigh. Kate decides to say hello, and the sleigh crashes to the ground. Now the kids have to help Santa retrieve his gifts, his reindeer, and distribute the remaining presents in time or the Christmas spirit will disappear forever from this world. Seriously, kids. They are nothing but trouble.
I feel like I’m betraying my own principles by saying this, but… well, don’t hold it against me, please, but I kind of like this movie. Oh, alright, I like this movie, happy now? It helps that Kate isn’t too sickly sweet and nauseating – in fact, she wants to capture Santa Claus on tape not because she wants the world to believe in Santa like she does, but rather, she wants to have a viral video that will be seen by millions of people. Kurt Russell’s Santa Claus is adorably sarcastic in a faux-tough ass way, and in many ways he is a both an affirmation as well as subversion of the Santa Claus stereotype. I mean, he scoffs at many of the sillier tropes pegged at him, but he is undeniably the generous old buffoon at heart like the stories claim he is. The guy playing Teddy is just filling up space and being a useful plot device when the need occurs, but Mr Russell and Darby Camp are enough to keep things moving at a good pace to the finish line.
The rest of the movie is filled with standard Christmas tropes, from unlikely people coming together to sing Christmas carols to people believing again in miracles, and oh yes, Teddy is okay again when he gets an apparition of the dead dad telling him how proud the dead dad is of him, for joining up with hoodlums and stealing cars or something. Everything goes swimmingly well in the end and Christmas is saved, hallelujah.
Gross, I know, but it’s Christmas, and for a movie of its kind, The Christmas Chronicles reins in the saccharine stuff a little and balances the sugar with some cynical humor that works. So, let’s all give blessings that at least we now have this option, instead of having to endure It’s a Wonderful Life or A Charlie Brown Christmas one more time.