I saw the ads for The Christmas Chronicles pop up in Netflix, and I first dismissed it. Netflix comes out with a lot of different content these days, not all of it of the best quality. A made-for-Netflix movie about Santa Claus seemed like a stretch. I pictured a low budget, bad acting, and a worse story. Yet as I surfed the interwebs, I came across some chatter from folks saying the movie was actually not just decent, but good.
In the end, it’s just around an hour and a half of my time to check it out. I persuaded the fam we should give it a shot, and we watched it the day after Thanksgiving. It stars Kurt Russell as Santa. How bad could it be?
I think one of the tricks with a movie like this is you’re not quite sure how to approach it when you watch it. It hasn’t had much of a marketing campaign outside of Netflix, so there’s just not that much to go on. In the end, it turns into more of an impulse watch than anything else, which provides a unique opportunity for the film to establish its own rules and expectations as it goes along.
But you’re reading a review of the film, so I can set you up a little better than I was. To really enjoy this movie (and let me say that I actually really enjoyed it when I watched it), I think it helps to understand the rules it’s following. First off, it knows it’s kind of campy. The dialogue, the acting, the plot itself doesn’t really take itself too seriously, and you shouldn’t either. It realizes it’s a Netflix movie, and it plays that up in some ways. But at the same time, it also plays it very straight, if that makes sense.
Kurt Russell really throws himself into the role of Santa. He plays it up and has a blast on screen, which is infectious. So he’s taking the part for what it is, even as the movie itself is admitting it’s still just a Netflix movie. And yet they also clearly spent a whole bunch of money on the special effects for the film. Some of them are random, but they’re all very well done. It’s fun to watch a movie that takes the Santa mythos seriously (more or less) and uses lots of money to splash that on the screen.
In the end, I gave this movie a 7/10, which is at least two points higher than I thought it had a chance of getting when I first heard of it. It was a fun movie I could watch with all my kids. We laughed. We rolled our eyes, and we had a good time. Actually decent Christmas movies don’t come out on a regular basis. I could see watching this one again next year, and I suspect it might even play better the second time around.
If you’re looking for some holiday fun, give this movie a whirl.
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