Not to be outdone by Hallmark, Netflix has released a slate of Christmas movies, and one in particular is getting lots of love from fans.
“#ChristmasChronicles is absolutely the Christmas movie we needed,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “It goes up there as [one of] the best ones over the decades.” Another viewer tweeted, “Instant Christmas classic! Great story, best Santa, can’t wait to see it again.” The movie currently has 87 percent positive audience reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.
The Christmas Chronicles stars Kurt Russell as a smoldering St. Nick who’s out to teach a bickering brother and sister how to work together. The movie follows a time-tested plot formula: A grumpy protagonist, in this case teenage boy Teddy, helps Santa Claus out of a predicament and finds his or her Christmas cheer, usually with the help of an elven sidekick (check) and an overly cheerful companion (Teddy’s younger sister, Kate).
Russell is not your mother’s Santa, unless your mother had a crush on Kurt Russell in the 1980s. He chews out the kids who slow down his Christmas Eve deliveries, steals a car, and complains that popular drawings of him make his rear end look big.
“I’m not playing him as a jolly, old elf,” Russell told Parade. “He’s a real person.”
Russell’s character still brings plenty of Christmas cheer, but in a disjointed way that makes you wonder what he’s really up to.
The actor also said he intentionally played up Santa’s authoritativeness in crafting the character.
“Santa’s got an element of intimidation to him,” he said. “You watch kids going up to the … Santa Clauses in the malls, and there’s a big part of that that involves intimidation. They’ll keep their eyes down.”
The Christmas Chronicles version of St. Nick could have come from Greek mythology—a flawed deity with intense but limited powers and, of course, good looks. He takes the humans for a wild ride, and they learn lessons along the way.
The movie has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments—like the CGI elves doing The Floss—along with the tenderhearted sentimentality expected from a Christmas flick.
Sadly, the strongest characters get the least screen time. Teddy and Kate’s parents, played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Oliver Hudson, Kurt Russell’s real-life son, have an enduring, sacrificial love for each other and their children. Dad is a lion-hearted leader whose devotion to his family crescendos at Christmas, while mom works tirelessly behind the scenes to care for everyone under her roof. But Teddy and Kate can’t fathom how much they are loved until someone more powerful comes down to their level to show them. It’s a lesson the movie shares with the true story of Christmas, in which God comes down to His people to help them accept His gift of love.