It was late Christmas Eve, and no sleeper was up.
The cookies were plated, warm milk in each cup.
The snow held a silence, which barely was broken
When Santa Claus came, thinking none had awoken.
He leapt from the sleigh with his sack close at hand,
Entrusting the reindeer to wait on demand,
And nimbly invaded each chimney and home
In a fashion not often depicted in poem.
His task soon completed, rewarding the good,
Saint Nick headed off to the next neighborhood,
When high in the air with the reindeer full speed,
He felt a small tap, as of someone in need.
Well, Santa, unused to surprises, no doubt,
Spun round in his sleigh and began freaking out,
Which then made the reindeer do likewise ahead,
And what happened next should be watched and not read.
MPAA rating: TV-PG
Imagine The Santa Clause, Adventures in Babysitting, and Gremlins all mashed together into a surprisingly enjoyable amalgamation of good-natured holiday spirit. If you can also imagine Kurt Russell as a slimmed-down Santa Claus, then you’ve got Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles.
Christmas movies have long speculated about how Santa does what he does, from The Santa Clause and The Polar Express to Elf and ‘Twas the Night, and The Christmas Chronicles is a welcome addition to such conjecture, with its magical portals and cute, fuzzy elves. As the poem above suggests, a bickering brother and sister (Judah Lewis and Darby Camp) sneak their way onto Santa’s sleigh, causing it to crash in Chicago, where they must help Santa Kurt retrieve his reindeer and sack in time to save Christmas.
Of all the movies I’ve name-dropped, the closest comparison is definitely Adventures in Babysitting, not only for the Chicago setting but for entire sections of the plot (captured by criminals, a marvelous musical number with almost the same bluesy guitar riff). However, it manages to add charm to its more familiar elements, thanks in large part to Kurt Russell, who will surely go down as one of the great Santa depictions on film. Part of that is how non-traditional he is, often grousing over the false clichés about him spread through advertising (he’s not that fat apparently), yet there’s a winking warmth to him that never lets cynicism win out.
It may not be the most original of Christmas films, but The Christmas Chronicles may well become a new holiday classic for family audiences. Netflix certainly seems to have had faith in it, commissioning four elf character balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year to promote it. While the suggestion that no gifts equals no Christmas goes against the better lesson of Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, The Christmas Chronicles is an entertaining jaunt of heart-warming humor from start to smile-worthy finish, which any fan of Adventures in Babysitting or The Santa Clause is likely to enjoy this Christmas (and many more to come).
Best line: (Teddy) “Can’t you just wave your hand, and, like, Jedi mind-trick the cops?” (Santa) “I’m Santa Claus, Teddy, not Yoda.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2018 S.G. Liput
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