'The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2' Review: Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn don't live up to their off-screen chemistry
Spoilers for ‘The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2’
There is an episode in the comedy series, ‘Community’, where Abed (Danny Pudi) forgets the spirit of Christmas and has a mental breakdown and starts seeing everything in claymation. His friends try to walk him through this, as they improvise ways to remind him what the day is truly about. It perfectly captures the by-the-numbers Christmas adventure trope where things happen in such a way that only Christmassy things can save everything. ‘The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2’ takes that trope and plays it over and over (without the self-awareness, of course).
It’s a redemption story. ‘The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2’ takes place two years after the incidents of the first film. Kate (Darby Camp) is now a cynical teenager. While reluctantly spending Christmas in Cancun with her mom’s new boyfriend Bob (Tyrese Gibson), and his son Jack (Jazhir Bruno), Kate decides to run away. But Jack follows her. And because of the mischief of an elf-tuned-human named Belsnickel (Julian Dennison), they are both transported to the North Pole. Of course, Belsnickel had planned this all along. When Santa Claus (Kurt Russell) comes to save them and take them to his hidden lair, Belsnickel secretly tags along and puts his plan into action. What’s his plan? To make sure there is a world without Santa Claus and a world where he would take the Christmas icon’s place.
It’s a low-stakes adventure even for a kids’ movie and is also terribly overstuffed for a kids’ movie. There is an evil – well, "evil" may be too big a word for someone who fits the bill of an annoying high-school bully – villain. There is time travel (where Kate meets the 13-year-old version of her now-dead father Doug). There is a mutiny of elves caused by Belsnickel’s evil magic. And there is Mrs Claus (Goldie Hawn), saving the day back in the North Pole, while Santa is off to Turkey to get another magical Christmas star from the wood elves there.
All in all, at a few minutes shy of two hours, the runtime feels long and the story too chaotic. But there are fun bits. Santa, in 1990 Christmas Eve in Boston airport manages to get everybody to do a glee club-like song and dance number. It’s kinda fun to see Russell in an aviator, playing the saxophone. There is also the fact that Hawn’s presence makes the film more adorable (even though Russell and her on-screen chemistry just does not live up to their off-screen one).
But the story, if the chaos and the runtime are to be shrugged off, does have a good message in general. It parallels Kate’s disgruntled sullen attitude with that of Belsnickel and we see both have a happy ending by the end of it. The fact that Chris Columbus wrote and directed this film does not seem to have any impact on the end product. Yes, it is meant for kids. But kids’ films can still be well-written, right? This film ends up being just another title in the overstuffed Christmas movie market. With better VFX, of course.
‘The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2’ is available on Netflix.