“The Christmas Chronicles” great in nice and naughty ways

Kurt Russel as Santa? Yes! Yes! Yes!

“The Christmas Chronicles” on Netflix is written by Matt Lieberman and David Guggenheim and directed by Clay Kaytis. It tells the story of Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis), a brother and sister team who stow away on Santa’s sleigh. When they accidentally cause the sleigh to crash, Christmas is imperiled. Following Santa (Kurt Russel), they must find his magical hat, broken sleigh and befriend his fiendish elves to save Christmas.

The film is a disjointed roller coaster, teetering from family adventure to chase movie to mystical tale to family drama. But you forgive it all because it’s all just so entertaining. In good and bad ways.

Santa’s sleigh crashes and he has to deploy emergency measures? Good and entertaining. Santa lets a kid steal a car for him? Bad and entertaining. Teddy learns a lesson about finding his inner strength from his dead dad? Good and entertaining. Fake-looking CGI elves attacking a group of criminals? Bad and entertaining.

And then there’s Kurt Russel, chewing the scenery as if it were bubble gum, hamming it up just by being himself. Only he’s Santa Claus. He doesn’t ho ho ho. He’s not fat. He gets irritable rather easily, and he’s not adverse to bargaining, misleading and lying to the missus. He’s not full of Christmas cheer so much as trying to avert armageddon because if he doesn’t bring Christmas joy every year, the world will devolve into anarchy and violence just as it did during the Middle Ages. It’s a totally different take on the character, a veritable middle finger to all the schmaltzy, commercially-driven Santa Claus’ in the mainstream.

How do you not admire that?

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