It's pretty rare nowadays that any movie comes along and, weather good or bad, manages to reignite the Christmas spirit I remember having when I was a kid. That certain magical feeling of butterflies in my stomach as I anticipated every December 24th when Santa would come along and reward my good behavior with toys and candy. I think 'Arthur Christmas' was the last time I remember feeling that way.
A big part of it is making the concept of Santa's deliveries magical but seemingly plausible, remembering that Santa is so much about magic. For me, this one accomplished all of that, and if I'm honest, I enjoyed this one. But it's certainly not without a few flaws.
'The Christmas Chronicles' tells the story about two siblings on Christmas Eve. Kate (Darby Camp) is the little sister who still believes in Santa Claus, and still has that genuine Christmas spirit. Her character is a little bit irritating, but she's no Izzy from 'Christmas Break-In'. Teddy (Judah Lewis) is the big brother preteen who doesn't believe in Santa anymore, especially since his Dad recently died (in NOT a typical car accident, thank you!)
Kate comes up with the idea to capture Santa in order to prove his existence, and asks for Teddy's help in true sibling blackmail fashion. During the night, Kate and Teddy are awoken by Santa doing his thing, and they hop on board his sleigh like any kid might dream of doing. When Santa (Kurt Russell) realizes they're there, he's startled, and there's a massive 'Red Sleigh Down' situation going on, dooming Christmas. Realizing their mistake, the kids offer to help in any way they can to help Santa save Christmas.
As i mentioned, the film is not without a few problems. The glaring one for yours truly was the musical number. Anyone who has seen this knows about it. But it does have the potential to become this unnecessary guilty pleasure moment, much like the Vanilla Ice moment in 'Secret of the Ooze', only because Kurt Russell is so into it. Furthermore, I wasn't a big fan of either kid. I don't blame the kids so much as the director, asking them to ham it up in certain moments.
We also have a very different idea of Christmas elves here, where they are cartoonishly CG'd, and truthfully resemble garden gnomes a bit more. They kinda seem like someone saw 'Gnomeo & Juliette' and 'Trolls' and said, "Imagine their babies, and those are the Christmas elves." They're cute, but I dunno how I feel about them. It just feels like cashing in on the popularity of the cuteness factor that so many things do nowadays.
The real star of the movie is Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. There's something perfectly awesome about such a bad ass actor portraying the jolly (not fat) man, and I totally dig the whole bad ass Santa idea. The only other time I really remember it was in 'Rise of the Guardians'. I don't know that I prefer it from the traditional good guy Santa, but it's a fun concept, and Kurt does a great job, meeting the whole thing in the middle. He's stern, but he's a perfectly friendly guy, all the same.
Beyond that, I had to appreciate so many of the moments in this that displayed Santa's magic on the screen. My favourite bits were seeing how Santa chimney-jumps, and when we get to see what's inside Santa's sack of gifts. The reindeer are pretty cool as well, but I didn't think they did much with them, other than provide a randomly necessary means of transportation. But that's a nitpick on my part. The reindeer so seldom get time in the spotlight.
Regardless of any criticism, this is just a perfectly decent family movie on Netflix, and it's right where it needs to be. Had this been a big screen thing, I might be a bit more critical. But the film is perfectly magical for the kids watching, and will probably get them into the spirit of things. And if any adults watching are anything like me, they might get a kick out of certain aspects throughout, especially seeing Snake Plissken in big, red suit. Not without its problems, but still a lot of fun, and it worked on me as far as reigniting Christmas spirit.