With the parade of new holiday movies that arrive on Netflix every season, binge-watchers find themselves faced with the ever-perplexing question: “To watch, or not to watch?”
While some of the films produced by the streaming giant lack originality, filling the same cookie-cutter mold as any Hallmark movie, Netflix usually produces one gem a season that is worthy of joining the ranks of “Elf,” “Home Alone” and “The Polar Express” as a December must-watch. In 2018, this movie was “The Christmas Chronicles.”
Two years ago, audiences were introduced to Kurt Russell’s dashing and dynamic new take on Saint Nick. When siblings Kate and Teddy Pierce (Darby Camp and Judah Lewis) try to catch Santa in the act, their plan goes awry, putting the fate of Christmas at stake. With the help of the elves and the occasional karaoke break, the trio bands together to finish the job so Christmas may endure.
Two years later, here we are, in need of new holiday movie content to fill the void of this year’s quarantined Christmas. With the sequel to “The Christmas Chronicles” finally upon us, expectations from fans ran high, with myself included.
That being said, it is with a heavy heart that I admit that “The Christmas Chronicles 2” did not live up to the legacy of its predecessor.
“The Christmas Chronicles 2” continues the story where our heroes and heroines left off, with the Pierce family trading Lowell, Mass. for Cancun, Mexico as their holiday destination with Claire’s (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) new boyfriend Bob, (Tyrese Gibson) and his son Jack (Jahzir Bruno). Kate’s resentment toward her mother Claire prompts her and Jack’s capture by the villainous Belsnickel (Julian Dennison), a disgruntled former Christmas elf who seeks to put an end to Christmas once and for all.
The problem with “The Christmas Chronicles 2” is its convoluted storyline that takes the focus away from the heart we see in the first movie. While there is still an important lesson that Santa teaches Kate in response to her mother finding love after the death of her father, it is much harder to find amidst the Belsnickel plot, Santa’s lengthy backstory and a few unnecessary elements of time travel.
There were some strong points of the film, with Russell’s real-life partner, Goldie Hawn, featured as Mrs. Claus in a much more developed role compared to her short cameo at the end of the first movie. “The Chronicles 2” also gives Kate, Jack and the audience a tour of the North Pole, bringing a very impressive magical element to the film, and in this film’s karaoke break, the iconic voice of the 1960s, Darlene Love, joins Russell in a holiday duet.
“The Christmas Chronicles 2” is by no means a bad movie, but it does not capture the same heart of the first film and therefore leaves something to be desired. I would certainly give it a watch, especially for anyone who loved or even just liked the first movie, as it is entertaining to watch and ranks far higher in my book than most of Netflix’s holiday flicks.
The on-screen ability of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, in addition to the truly stunning optics of Santa’s Village (a.k.a. Mrs. Claus’s Village), makes this film thoroughly entertaining. While it is perfect for anyone looking to get into the holiday spirit, those looking for a movie to top the first installment of the franchise will have to hope that Santa Claus will bring us a better threequel next Christmas.