Review: The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

WARNING: Potential Spoilers Ahead

2.0 / 5.0

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This film has all the qualities you would expect from a straight-to-streaming-release Christmas film. It is rife with cheesy cliches, moments of questionable acting, predictable plot points, forgettable characters, and inconsistent tone.  Despite all its flaws, The Christmas Chronicles is a strange but mostly entertaining addition to the ever growing list of holiday b-movies for one main reason: Kurt Russell.

Kurt truly shines, proving my theory that every movie would be drastically improved by casting him, as he dives into the Christmas cinematic universe as one of my favorite renditions of Santa Claus to date.  If my review was based solely on his performance, the movie would earn 5 stars. Unfortunately, there are moments where Kurt Russell is absent, and the movie suffers greatly.

Without Kurt’s Kris Kringle, The Christmas Chronicles is better described as a chronic case of Christmas cliches. The film is a bland rehashing of Christmas movie tropes, including a forgettable “here is how bad your life could turn out without the Christmas Spirit™” involving one of the two child protagonists, complete with the one dimensional violent bad guy to show what the absence of that Christmas Spirit™ can do.

The writers do not stop here, leaning into this trope, going as far as blaming all instances of deep human suffering from the dark ages to World War II on this lack of Christmas Spirit™.  The solution to this epidemic that plagues all of humanity? Just believe in Santa Claus. It is an odd decision that is incredibly off putting, tonally inconsistent, and unnecessary. Its either poor nonsensical writing, or a shallow pessimistic attempt to critique religious belief.

Overall, The Christmas Chronicles title being plural is appropriate, as it feels like multiple different movies smashed together in one. It has elements of the hallmark/lifetime Christmas movies full of sappy emotion but lacking depth, along with trippy action-packed hyperspace travel, fantastical magic abilities, a bizarre Kurt Russell musical number in a jail cell, and strange one-foot-tall CGI elves.

The movies eccentric and at times outright outlandish natures makes it oddly charming. I would not be surprised if the movie attracts an annual cult following. By no means do I see it as a quality film, but it is incredibly unique. The creators take risks, and the result is worth adding to the pantheon of wacky zany Christmas movies.

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