Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles features Kurt Russell as a crotchety Santa exactly as you’d imagine him. If that doesn’t excite you, skip the movie.
Really. That’s it. The movie is produced by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire and the Harry Potter films) and directed by Clay Kaytis (The Angry Birds Movie), but honestly those credits don’t matter that much. It’s a Disney Channel-level movie about two siblings whose father died in the year prior to Christmas 2018. Teddy (Judah Lewis), the troubled and surly older brother, and Kate (Darby Camp), his bright and hopeful little sister, accidentally crash Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve and have to help him retrieve his lost bag of toys before the Christmas Spirit meter hits zero and the world enters another Dark Age.
That’s not really an exaggeration; Santa (or as some have deemed him, “Santa Plissken”) outright states that the last time he missed a few years of Christmas, Medieval Europe broke out into conflict and prolonged wars. I would say you’ve never seen a Santa like this before, but we’ve had non-traditionally crotchety Santas on film for decades. Although I’m sure if any of those Santas have ever said “I don’t say ‘Ho-Ho-Ho.’ That’s a myth. FAKE NEWS!”
Santa helps steal a car! Santa does a musical number! Santa helps save Christmas!
The pleasures of The Christmas Chronicles are found entirely within Russell’s portrayal of Santa. The two kids’ story is relatively formulaic, emotionally buoyed by their desire to see their father again (a gift Santa can’t really give), but you’ve seen that tale told a million times in a million ways on ABC Family and the like. But Santa’s enough here. It’s a joy.