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The Christmas Chronicles review - pure festive fantasy fun


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Verdict: a predictable but nonetheless magical Christmas adventure 

The Christmas Chronicles (2018) is a heartwarming film about two siblings who accidentally jump into Santa Claus’ sleigh and embark on a surreal adventure to save Christmas. Directed by Clay Kaytis, the person behind The Angry Birds Movie (2016), this family/adventure film is all about the power of magic and belief during one of the most celebrated and adored seasons of the year: Christmas.

What starts off as an enchanting collection of videos of the cheerful Pierce family celebrating Christmas each year, ends in the loss of a dad and the feeling of mourning present in Claire and her two children’s day-to-day life.

An emergency call from the hospital where Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) works leads to an unplanned and lonely Christmas Eve, shared only by Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy (Judah Lewis), the two siblings who are constantly fighting: Kate dreams of seeing Santa Claus, and Teddy has no time for her or her dreams. The profound grief for their father's loss brings the two of them together.

The desolation in Kate’s eyes, who, like every child, is full of expectations of the perfect  celebration, is heart-breaking, but doesn't last for long: she and her brother plan to catch Santa coming to their home. Beyond their wildest dreams, they end up jumping into Santa’s sleigh and start on an adventure that would make the little kid inside anyone jealous. 

This dreamy experience includes scaring Santa, losing the reindeers, and going from Massachusetts, where the Pierce family live, to Chicago, where they are chased by the police. Their main mission is classic: to give every child their present and save Christmas before the night turns into day.

While Santa Claus (Kurt Russell) is convincing policemen and other inmates that he's real, Kate is communicating with a crowd of gnomes in Santa Claus’ sumptuous offices. Summed up, this story immerses the audience in a marvellous and very fun-to-watch world of fantasy where everything is possible if you believe.

“Believe,” is Santa’s most frequent advice that Kate readily follows and Teddy, the only non-believer in the family, must slowly learn to follow through their adventures.

There are also moments of humour, jokes about current news or sudden sarcastic comments for both children and adults, very well integrated in the film. On the other hand, emotional and truly saddening scenes moved the whole audience.

Despite the great performances and cast, including the renowned American actress Goldie Hawn, Darby Camp stands out. The 11-year-old actress, most known for her role as Chloe in Big Little Lies, delivered Kate's impressively mature behaviour and resilience perfectly.

The Christmas Chronicles is a quite irreverent film, surely more engaging than would be expected considering the vast variety of Christmas films available. There is a slight lack of originality, possibly due to an obligation to follow the tradition: Santa Claus, the excited kid, and the disaster that is fixed in the end. It's a film for children, so the predictably happy ending is understandable. Nevertheless, it glues all eyes to the screen and makes the audience fall in love with this powerful and emotional festive film, including those who aren’t particularly excited about Christmas!

The Christmas Chronicles is streaming on Netflix now.

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