The Christmas Chronicles: Can Santa make Xmas great again?

Review: Routine seasonal confection but with an old-school Republican Santa

Kurt Russell as the big man

Film Title: The Christmas Chronicles

Director: Clay Kaytis

Starring: Kurt Russell, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis, Kimberly Williams-Paisley

Genre: Family

Running Time: 103 min

Fri, Nov 23, 2018, 05:00

   

“Fake news,” harrumphs Kurt Russell’s Santa, in a translation of St Nick that – in common with the actor donning the red suit – is very old-school Republican.

When this Santa says “You better watch out”, you have to worry if he’s packing serious heat. “I’m not an official saint,” he cautions, later.

This Father Christmas looks good behind the wheel of a Dodge Challenger. The lining on his suit looks less like fluffy white cotton than like something Ted Nugent killed recently. He plays a bluesy rendition of Santa Claus Is Back in Town in prison, because, hey, sometimes you gotta break the rules to get the job done.

The job in question? To deliver presents all over the US before daybreak. What do you mean there’s a rest of the world?

The charismatic Russell carries this otherwise routine seasonal confection in which warring siblings – perky Santa believer Katie (Camp) and her rebellious teenage brother Teddy (Lewis) – accidentally hack Christmas by stowing away in Santa’s sleigh, sending said vessel hurtling to earth. To make things right, the kids and the Yuletide housebreaker must find Santa’s hat and reindeer, somewhere in Chicago.

Chris Columbus, the director of Home Alone and author of Gremlins, produced this colour-saturated adventure and there’s more than a touch of the Mogwai mutations about Santa’s naughty, sometimes chainsaw-wielding elves.

Angry Birds director Clay Kaytis delivers a predictable stocking filler from a screenplay that ultimately slides into mushy family melodrama. One can’t help but wish they’d gone the full Escape from New York (“We were buddies, Rudolph. You, me and Fresno Bob. You know what they did to Bob, huh?”) with Russell’s dialogue. But a late, great celebrity cameo adds to the festivities.

Available on Netflix from November 22nd