The Christmas Chronicles

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The Christmas Chronicles
The Christmas Chronicles.png
Official promotional poster
Directed byClay Kaytis
Screenplay byMatt Lieberman
Story by
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyDon Burgess
Edited byDan Zimmerman
Music byChristophe Beck
Production
company
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
November 22, 2018
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

The Christmas Chronicles is a 2018 American Christmas comedy film directed by Clay Kaytis from a screenplay by Matt Lieberman. The film stars Kurt Russell, Judah Lewis, Darby Camp, Lamorne Morris, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and Oliver Hudson. It is the first installment in The Christmas Chronicles film series. The film was produced by 1492 Pictures and Wonder Worldwide and was released on November 22, 2018, on Netflix.[1]

The plot follows two children, Kate and Teddy, who notice Santa Claus in their home and jump into his sleigh with his reindeer; however, they accidentally cause the sleigh to crash, and the presents are lost. As Christmas morning approaches, it is up to the children and Santa to save Christmas by correctly delivering all of the presents.

The Christmas Chronicles received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics. A sequel, titled The Christmas Chronicles 2, was released on November 25, 2020, with much of the original cast returning.

Plot[edit]

In Lowell, Massachusetts around Christmas 2018, widowed mother Claire Pierce struggles to keep her family together after they had a fight because of the death of her firefighter husband Doug, who died while trying to save some strangers from a fire. Claire's son Teddy has lost his Christmas spirit and becomes involved in illegal activities like stealing cars. However, Teddy's younger sister, Kate, is trying to keep the Christmas spirit alive, while maintaining a belief in Santa Claus. Kate catches Teddy stealing a car from a parking lot and records it, threatening to show Claire, but changes her mind, telling Claire that Teddy had smashed a picture frame instead.

On Christmas Eve, Claire is called away to fill in for a coworker, leaving Teddy to look after Kate. While watching old family Christmas videos, Kate notices a strange arm appear out of the fireplace. Kate believes this is Santa and convinces Teddy to help her by promising to destroy the tape of Teddy stealing the car. The two set up a makeshift tripwire and a hidden camera. Kate is later woken up and sees Santa in the living room. However, he escapes to the roof and the two children follow. Kate decides to hide in his sleigh to get a closer look, and Teddy reluctantly follows her. Santa rides off with the kids in tow. When Kate decides to make her presence known, Santa and the reindeer are startled and he loses control of the sleigh. After teleporting to Chicago, Illinois, the sleigh breaks down, causing the reindeer to scatter and Santa's hat and a bag of presents to be lost.

Santa introduces himself to the kids and tells them that he has to get back to delivering presents as soon as possible or else Christmas spirit will be lost. Without his hat, Santa cannot move quickly or through tight spaces like he normally does. The kids are forced to help him after he threatens to put them on the naughty list permanently. They stop at a bar where Santa tries to seek help from the patrons. When they get no assistance, they steal a car at Teddy's suggestion, after he reminds Santa that the car was already stolen by the bartender and they can turn it into the police afterwards. They locate the reindeer, but encounter a police car driven by police officers Dave Poveda and Mikey Jameson, who are looking for the stolen car. Kate goes after the reindeer by herself while Teddy and Santa lure the police away. Santa is arrested, while Kate and Teddy escape with the reindeer. The kids find Santa's bag, and Kate goes inside to find help. She is teleported to the North Pole where she encounters Santa's elves, who agree to help her.

Meanwhile, Teddy is attacked by Vincent and his gang of thugs who take him and the bag to their hideout, where he is saved by Kate and the elves, who then set out to repair Santa's sleigh. At the police station, Santa tries to explain his situation to Officer Poveda. When Santa reveals that the officer's wish this year is to reconcile with his ex-wife, Lisa, who also shares that wish, Poveda is taken aback, but still refuses to believe him. Poveda has Santa locked in the holding cell, though he becomes suspicious when he sees a larger number of arrests than usual on Christmas Eve. Seeing that Christmas spirit has gotten too low, Santa gathers all the inmates to perform "Santa Claus Is Back in Town", which works among all the officers except Poveda. Poveda is finally convinced when he receives a call from Lisa, who invites him out for coffee in the morning, and agrees to let Santa go. One of the elves arrives through the air vent to give Santa a spare hat. Santa goes outside to find his sleigh repaired.

Santa sees that he only has an hour until morning to complete delivering presents, so the kids agree to help him. With Kate tossing him presents and Teddy driving the sleigh, Santa is able to deliver all of the presents, saving Christmas. Afterwards, he drops the kids off back at their home before their mother returns. The siblings ask Santa if they’ll ever see him again, and Santa says not if he can help it but will if he ever needs help in future. Santa gives Teddy his hat as a memento, showing that he did not really need it.

When Claire returns, they go inside to find that the living room has been decorated like their father used to do it. When the kids open their gifts from Santa on Christmas morning, Kate gets the skateboard she asked for, while Teddy gets a magic ornament. When Teddy hangs it on the tree, he sees his dad magically appear in his reflection, and they both express pride in each other.

Back in the North Pole, Santa reunites with Mrs. Claus, who has come home. She asks what movie they are going to watch, and Santa takes out the video Kate took of the entire adventure with a smile.

Cast[edit]

  • Kurt Russell as Santa Claus / Saint Nick, a magical figure who brings presents for people on Christmas night, when they are asleep.
  • Darby Camp as Kate Pierce, an enthusiastic 11-year-old girl who is Teddy's younger sister. Kate has faith in Santa and decides to find Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve.
    • Kaitlin Aidree as 3 to 5-year old Kate Pierce.
  • Judah Lewis as Teddy Pierce, a 16-year-old boy and Kate's older brother. He does not believe in Santa Claus, and engages in illegal activities after the death of his father.
    • Jesse Gervasi as 3-year-old Teddy Pierce.
    • David Kohlsmith as 5-year-old Teddy Pierce.
    • Jack Bona as 8 to 10-year-old Teddy Pierce.
  • Lamorne Morris as Officer Mikey Jameson, a police officer who lives in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Kimberly Williams-Paisley as Claire Pierce, Teddy and Kate's widowed mother. She is a nurse at a hospital in Lowell, Massachusetts.
  • Oliver Hudson as Doug Pierce, Teddy and Kate's late father and Claire's husband. He was a firefighter and died after running into a fire to save several random people.
  • Martin Roach as Officer Dave Poveda, a police officer who lives in Chicago, Illinois who does not remember Santa Claus.
  • Vella Lovell as Wendy, a hostess at a restaurant and aspiring fashion designer.
  • Tony Nappo as Charlie Plummer The Bartender, an ex-con bartender.
  • Steven van Zandt as "Wolfie", an inmate who formerly wanted to be a musician.
  • Marc Ribler as "Dusty", another inmate who also formerly wanted to be a musician.
  • Jeff Teravainen as Vincent, a villain
  • Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus, the wife of Santa Claus.
  • Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson on the tablet of the valet worker.

Voices[edit]

Production[edit]

Development for what would become The Christmas Chronicles began in June 2013, when it was announced Chris Columbus' 1492 Pictures had acquired a Found Footage spec script titled 12/24 written by Matt Lieberman and based on a story by Lieberman and David Guggenheim wherein two brothers set out to prove that Santa Claus is real, using their home video camera and inadvertently cause Santa’s sleigh to crash after stowing away with the brothers trying to work together to save Christmas.[2]

In December 2017, it was reported that Kurt Russell would star as Santa Claus in the film for Netflix,[3] later given the title The Christmas Chronicles.

Principal photography began in January 2018 in Toronto, Ontario.[3] The film was set in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Chicago, Illinois.[4]

Release[edit]

The film was released on November 22, 2018.[5]

Netflix reported the film was streamed by 20 million households over its first week of release.[6]

Reception[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 68% based on 59 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Viewers seeking a fresh holiday viewing option – or those simply in the mood for Santa Kurt Russell – should find The Christmas Chronicles well worth a yuletide stream."[7] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 10 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[8]

Melanie McFarland of Salon said: "The film's no great shakes, but Russell's star power in 'The Christmas Chronicles' is a gift anyone should be happy to claim."[9] Charles Bramesco of The A.V. Club wrote: "The film doesn't know how to get out of its own way and foreground what's working, namely the dynamo of screen presence placed more prominently in the advertising than the feature itself."[10] Writing for Vox Magazine, Jenna Allen said: "Above all, it’s clear that Netflix has subverted the holiday movie blueprint – Hallmark, I'm looking at you – by giving us novelty, thrill and humor."[11] Derek Smith of Slant Magazine wrote: "In the end, the film succumbs to the tropes and emotional contrivances of the family melodrama at its core, ending up as a serviceable yet mostly forgettable addition to the already overstuffed genre of holiday-themed films."[12]

Soundtrack[edit]

The film features a cover of Elvis Presley's Santa Claus Is Back in Town, performed by Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, with actor Kurt Russell on lead vocals.[13][14][15] The lineup includes Stevie Van Zandt (of Springsteen's E Street Band) and Marc Ribler on guitar.[15] The band recorded the song with Russell at Steven's studio in New York.[13] In the film, the song is performed by Santa Claus (Kurt Russell) during a scene set at the jailhouse.[14] Each of the band appear onscreen, including Van Zandt and Ribler as named characters Wolfie and Dusty.[13][15]

Sequel[edit]

On September 15, 2020, a sequel titled The Christmas Chronicles 2 was announced. Original director Clay Kaytis dropped out and was replaced by Chris Columbus, who produced the first installment. Stars Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Darby Camp, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Judah Lewis were all confirmed to reprise their roles, while Julian Dennison and Jahzir Bruno were cast to appear in the sequel.[16] The Christmas Chronicles 2 was released on Netflix on November 25, 2020.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Christmas Chronicles Teaser Netflix". Netflix YouTube channel. Archived from the original on 2020-12-04. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  2. ^ "Chris Columbus 1492 Pictures Acquires Found Footage Santa Spec". Variety. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Kit, Borys (2017-12-05). "Kurt Russell to Play Santa Claus in Netflix Christmas Movie (Exclusive)". TheHollywoodReporter. Archived from the original on 2020-12-04. Retrieved 2018-09-14.
  4. ^ "Netflix's The Christmas Chronicles introduces a Santa who can get it". Vox. November 26, 2018. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  5. ^ "Netflix Is Closing Out 2018 With One Hell of an Original Film Slate". Film School Rejects. August 12, 2018. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  6. ^ Sharf, Zack (December 3, 2018). "Netflix's 'Christmas Chronicles' Breaks 20 Million Streams in One Week". IndieWire. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  7. ^ "The Christmas Chronicles (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  8. ^ "The Christmas Chronicles Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  9. ^ "Smart Watch: We need hot Santa Claus, now more than ever". Salon. 2018-12-15. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
  10. ^ "Kurt Russell gives his all as DILF Santa in The Christmas Chronicles". The A.V. Club. 19 November 2018. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
  11. ^ Allen, Jenna. "'The Christmas Chronicles' delights with humor and thrills". Vox Magazine. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
  12. ^ Smith, Derek (16 November 2018). "Review: The Christmas Chronicles". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
  13. ^ a b c Saunders, Mike (9 July 2021). "Disciples of Soul Interviews". Backstreets Magazine. Retrieved 2021-12-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ a b Poole, Shawn (23 December 2020). "The "Spirit of Christmas" Chronicles". www.backstreets.com. Archived from the original on 2020-12-24. Retrieved 2021-12-27.
  15. ^ a b c News (2018-11-26). "Kurt Russell Sings The Blues as Santa Jailed with Little Steven in 'Christmas Chronicles'". California Rocker. Retrieved 2021-12-27. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  16. ^ "Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn Have a 'Tremendous Amount of Love' in The Christmas Chronicles 2". People Magazine. Archived from the original on 2020-11-12. Retrieved 2019-12-06.
  17. ^ @NetflixFilm (September 15, 2020). "It's time for Mrs. Claus to get her due. Kurt Russell & @GoldieHawn are back to save the holidays in THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2, only on Netflix 25 November" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External links[edit]