Netflix follows up The Princess Switch: Switched Again with another disappointing seasonal sequel to one of their holiday hits, The Christmas Chronicles.
The Christmas Chronicles was not only a fantastic addition to the holiday genre, it was a modern classic firmly rooted in the magic of its occasion, and filled with unique imagination and excitement. I get why filmmaker Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Bicentennial Man, and a producer on The Christmas Chronicles) didn’t step outside the movie’s blueprint when directing/writing a sequel; he recognizes what audiences loved the first time around and he’s essentially ordering a larger portion for their second helping. “Movie goers loved Santa Claus (Kurt Russell), so give Saint Nick more screen time this time! People loved his gadgets, so give ‘em more gadgets! People thought the elves were cute, so fill every nook and cranny with elves for the sequel!”
Usually I’m not terribly forgiving when a sequel repeats itself, but the technical achievements of The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two are well polished. Aside from the odd rubbery special effect and the film’s heavy reliance on chroma key, the computer animation offers plenty of good-looking visuals; including the onslaught of elves, who all still act like Minions with a better sense of humour. Russell still makes a jovial, charismatic Santa and the addition of Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus is a nice touch that offers sweet moments between the real-life couple.
The story, however, isn’t that strong, though I do appreciate the film sticking with its original fairytale vibes. Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Deadpool 2) plays a mischievous troublemaker from Santa’s past who has an axe to grind with the man in red, but I didn’t find the character to be very fruitful, threatening, or funny nor Dennison’s acting to be very good. The plot involving Santa and our heroes finding a replacement Christmas star to protect the North Pole is a conflict that’s resolved too easily, leaving Columbus and his returning co-writer Matt Lieberman to scramble. Unfortunately, The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two goes pear-shaped during a final act that incorporates sloppy time travel, a cringe-worthy song and dance number, and goopy sentimentality.
Though The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two has its moments, watching it is like enjoying delicious candy before discovering the sting of a newfound cavity.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie