Netflix may have produced a Christmas classic with The Christmas Chronicles. The kind you’d watch with either your kids’, friends’ kids, or nieces and nephews for years to come.
|Written By||Matt Lieberman, David Guggenheim,|
|Genre(s)||Family, Holiday, Comedy|
|Good If You Like||Christmas Movies
Modernizing Classic Characters
|Mrs. Claus||Goldie Hawn|
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Summary (Ending on 2nd Page)
It’s 2018 and after the recent death of their father, Teddy and Kate’s household just hasn’t been the same. Especially since Christmas was one of their dad’s favorite holidays and with their mom taking as many shifts as possible, it leaves them by themselves. Something Teddy isn’t fond of because he is a teenager and Kate is barely pushing 11. Yet, with her having blackmail material on him, she convinces him to spend Christmas Eve with her and try to gain proof there is a Santa Claus.
Which she does, but just catching Santa on camera isn’t enough. She decides to go into the sleigh and no sooner is she in, and Teddy close behind her, Santa returns in and is off. Leading to her being cold, since Santa flies at airplane level, and her scaring Santa as she asks for a blanket. Once that happens, Santa’s bag of toys flies away, his reindeer, his hat, and his sleigh has to make a crash landing in Chicago. Leading to Teddy and Kate, out of guilt, helping Santa make up for the mess they made and, in the process, fixing the mess which was their relationship.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- How much of this whole scenario was planned by Santa? Especially his sleigh coming apart?
It Modernizes Santa Just Enough
There isn’t a movie out there featuring a classic character that doesn’t seek to modernize them. We got the new Grinch movie featuring a high tech lead, Chucky got a makeover and countless other examples. However, Santa is someone a bit more difficult to pull off. Yes, Santa always had magic and a certain level of tech to get his job done. However, balancing out expectations with modern times is a hard thing to do.
Kurt Russell as Santa though, he finds a nice balance. He acknowledges he is about 50+ pounds lighter than Santa and a lot of the myths surrounding him. Also, while a jolly old soul, there is the slightest bit of mischievousness. Not enough to make Russell’s Santa similar to Mike Myers’ Cat In The Hat or Jim Carrey’s The Grinch, but you feel there is a certain level of respect to what past generations think of Santa while trying to appeal to modern kids and families.
How? Well, by making Santa have this friendly old neighbor vibe. You know, the person your parents had babysit for you, who’d they gossip with on occasion, and sometimes they’d ask you to help them out because you knew how to work a smartphone and they just upgraded. Not to imply Santa is out of touch, but I’m just trying to paint a picture of how approachable Russell’s Santa is made to be.
Then, when it comes to the modernizing feel, it comes in the form of him not being a straight-up saint. Take him letting Teddy drive a stolen car with him in it, disobeying the order of authority figures, as well as speeding in a car. Those on the more conservative side may think Santa takes things a little too far and I’d agree with them when it comes to some of that. Yet, I feel Santa is written and performed to dance on the line between being rooted in tradition and acknowledging you have to spruce up the old to appeal to the new.
Teddy & Kate’s Relationship
While I was not left in a pool of my own tears, I will say the relationship between Teddy and Kate got me teary-eyed. Especially when their dad was mentioned. Though, even as individuals, you’ll find these two likable. Teddy, while he is committing grand theft auto for fun, you see it comes from him being left to his own devices. His mom isn’t around, dad died to save other people, and so he feels abandoned in a way. So, like many a hoodlum, with this vibe there is no family at home, he finds one in the streets.
Then, with Kate, you have to love she isn’t made into this goody two shoes who is oh so perfect in comparison to her brother. She hints at the fact she has a dirty mouth, that she isn’t passing all of her subjects, and she is a skater girl. Thus not giving us that usual, “I’m hardworking and a good person, with a parent who died/ isn’t around and thus I’ve stopped living my life to the fullest” persona which plagues holiday movies. Instead, she seems normal, relatable, and the actress doesn’t seem used for the sole fact that she is adorable.
Instead, you are presented with these everyday kids who lack perfection and are coping with the loss of their dad, and their mom not being around, the best way possible. Kate tries to spend more time with her brother, since he reminds her of their dad. Teddy, as noted, is trying to find a new family because the house he lives in now is just a reminder of what he lost. Making them helping Santa, and working as a team, lead to a reconciliation if you will.
I’m talking the type where Teddy realizes that, while his father is gone, and mom works hard, it is because they loved him. His dad died so that people would still be together and the tragedy they experienced didn’t end with a loved one dying. Then, in terms of his mom, she works hard so that, bad enough her kids lost their father, but she is trying to prevent them from losing their home and all the memories associated with their dad too.
As for Kate? While younger siblings can be annoying, part of the reason is they see the best in you and don’t have the same baggage your parents have. They lack preconceived notions and assumptions that you are on a set path. Hence why Kate wants to be around Teddy despite him breaking into cars. She remembers when he was her Teddy bear and she his Katie Cat. And them healing that bond, which was damaged by their father’s death, all thanks to Santa, may lead you to shedding a few tears.
Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing) – Recommended | Watch on Netflix
The Christmas Chronicles, unlike many a holiday movie, feels like something which can be watched year after year. Between Kate and Teddy’s relationship, their adventure, and how Kurt Russell’s Santa plays into that, while there are surely things you can complain about, they seem so minor. Hence the positive label and recommendation. This movie finds a way to take a classic character, adapt them to modern times, but never lose the spirit of the source material(s). Also, through a heartfelt story, which lacks your usual begging for sympathy, you get characters who naturally make you feel for them vs. use a dead parent to wiggle their way in the laziest way possible. Add in a song and dance number, as well as some comedic moments, and you got what hopefully won’t lead to a sequel because this, on its own, could stand the test of time.