Netflix's new festive film The Christmas Chronicles has mixed reviews, some naughty and some nice. A big Thanksgiving release from the streaming service, the latest Netflix original movie stars Kurt Russell as Santa Claus in a desperate (and funny) mission to save Christmas when he loses his sleigh.
Produced by Chris Columbus, The Christmas Chronicles pitches itself in the vein of his classical seasonal staples such as Gremlins and Home Alone. It's probably fair to say that the Netflix film might not be on their level, but that doesn't mean it's not an enjoyable enough adventure. That said, this is a movie that has really divided the critics; at the time of writing, it's certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with 64%.
Related: The Christmas Chronicles Trailer
We've rounded up the best of The Christmas Chronicles reviews, presenting the most brutal and the jolliest.
The Christmas Chronicles' Brutal Reviews
"Between the atrocious green-screen work, the blatant stock footage helicopter shots of city skylines and painfully obvious Toronto-for-America locations, you would be forgiven for thinking this movie was made in 1992. If it weren’t for punchlines about Uber and fake news, Netflix could have sold this as an unearthed relic a la The Other Side of the Wind and we’d believe them.
Fortunately, Christmas comes just once a year and Netflix’s Christmas movies will fade from your log-in screen soon enough. That’s not to say Netflix shouldn’t keep trying. The world needs Christmas movies."
"The narrative follows a predictable path and fails to mine the “fish out of water” scenarios it sets up — like the irony of stealing a car from a car thief, or the hilarity of the kidnapping that’s misunderstood by the police. This situational absurdity may have looked good on paper, but isn’t executed with any zest or zing. Plus, we could also live without the groan-worthy and worn-out line about Santa’s famed “Ho, ho, ho” being “fake news.”
The picture’s big action set pieces are hollow computer-generated spectacles that don’t provide the characters with much-needed narrative drive. The kids’ sleigh ride, jumping through space portals at warp speed, is garishly greenscreened."
"If it weren’t for the presence of Russell, The Christmas Chronicles would be the most painfully below average Christmas-y Christmas movie that ever Christmassed. For The Christmas Chronicles has all of the elements of only the most mediocre Lifetime holiday movies.
Very few elements of The Christmas Chronicles fully work. The CGI is hit or miss; while the reindeer are quite cool, Santa’s elves are furry little Nordic weirdos and in no danger of replacing Minions as your grandmother’s Facebook meme of choice; people who believe in Christmas are called “True Believers,” which is… weird; and there are some cameo choices that are truly, hilariously bizarre (and one cameo that’s utterly perfect)."
The Christmas Chronicles' Good Reviews
"Director Clay Kaytis (The Angry Birds Movie) makes his live-action debut here, and it’s a confident, thoroughly enjoyable holiday treat. The simple premise is wholly forgivable in the Christmas family movie genre, where familiarity is rewarded instead of decried, and Kurt Russell elevates every single scene into something vaguely, if not outright magical.
Kurt Russell is one of the all-time great movie Santa Clauses in The Christmas Chronicles, a conventional but likable holiday fantasy with a charming cast and a few imaginative scenes. It’s probably not enchanting enough to watch every single year, but it’s definitely good enough to watch every other Christmas, just for a pleasant change of pace."
"Russell’s Santa is a bracing blast of fresh air, less jolly than feisty, getting annoyed when asked to go, “Ho ho ho,” and lamenting cola adverts that make him look rotund. There’s a straight-talking, blue collar edge to this Saint Nick (“I’m not an official saint… I guess it’s who you know”) who disarms everyone he encounters by knowing their names and recalling every present they ever asked for. And also, if they’ve ever been on his naughty list, their crimes. Of course, he’s kindly and warm-hearted, but you get the impression he’d kick your ass if he had to.
It’s as predictable as an Advent calendar, but thanks to Kurt Russell’s grizzly charms, The Christmas Chronicles at least gives us one of the movies’ best Santas yet."
Not that you would have wanted to see Russell attempt the lead role at any point before now. In 2018 he proves bizarrely ideal for it, and throws himself wholeheartedly behind such flimsy comic gambits as Santa’s loathing of his famous ho-ho-ho catchphrase (“I don’t actually say that”) and dismay at his tubby public image (“billboards add 80 pounds”) with enough commitment to sell them, just about.
He also aces a rousing jailhouse rendition of the Elvis festive staple Santa Claus is Back in Town: it’s the kind of sequence children will enjoy now but only fully decode years later, when they realise exactly what Santa’s impromptu trio of female ‘backing singers’ were doing behind bars, in fishnet stockings, in an inner city police station on Christmas Eve. (Ho ho ho, indeed.)"
While The Christmas Chronicles may not set the cinematic world alight, or be high on the list of awards contenders, it is full of Christmas spirit, thanks largely to Russell's enthusiasm in playing the role of Santa. It seems that some critics can appreciate exactly what we want from a family holiday movie targeted at a home-viewing audience. Others may be in need of some Christmas spirit.
The Christmas Chronicles is streaming now on NetflixSource:gamerant.com