‘The Christmas Chronicles’ heartwarming even for the toughest Christmas-movie critics

Kurt Russell plays Santa Claus in "The Christmas Chronicles" on Netflix. Photo: Michael Gibson

I have a confession to make. Strange coming from a priest I know, but here it is: I’m not a fan of Christmas-themed movies unless it is the original Die Hard which is a Christmas movie and don’t let anyone else tell you different. But I digress.

So when the opportunity arose to review The Christmas Chronicles I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down with excitement. The movie is on Netflix and it is worth your valuable time this holiday season. The Christmas Chronicles is funny, heartwarming, and has a great message about belief.

Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Judah Lewis, Oliver Hudson, and Darby Camp in “The Christmas Chronicles” on Netflix. Photo: Michael Gibson

The story centers around two siblings Teddy and Kate Pierce struggling with the death of their beloved father, a fireman who died in the line of duty, and the effects it has on their family. Their mom — played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley — is a little lost, too, and fed up with the constant bickering and fighting of the two kids.

Teddy is on the verge of being a delinquent and Kate is struggling to be grown up even though she’s just a kid, trying to be a rock for her harried mom. As fate would have it mom is called into work at the hospital (she’s a nurse) on Christmas Eve and has to leave the siblings alone. Kate uses something she has over Teddy to make him help her hatch a plan to capture a video of Santa in action.

Turns out Santa is, wait for it, for real! Through a series of events the kids end up on Santa’s sleigh and that’s when the real fun of the movie begins. I don’t want to ruin the fun parts of the movie, I think they are best experienced fresh but I do want to highlight one performance in particular and that is Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. He is unlike any Santa you have ever experienced in film history and his gadgets, magic, sleigh, elves, and the North Pole are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. He’s funny and a little bawdy and overly concerned with his image but he’s also a man of action.

There is a scene with Santa in a police holding cell that should not be missed. Russell’s performance is key, he is the movie, and anything he does or says is done or said with great joy and Christmas spirit. That’s where belief comes in. Teddy was a nonbeliever and Kate was a true blue believer. The juxtaposition of these two worldviews fuels the movie at first. However, Teddy turns around throughout the misadventures.

Russell’s Santa shows Teddy that believing in the impossible is not a bad way to live. By the end of the movie you understand that this meeting of Santa with these two kids was no coincidence. If you love Christmas movies you will love The Christmas Chronicles and if you’re like me and are lukewarm about them, trust me you will love this one as well. This has a chance of being a Christmas classic!

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