ORIn the last 10 years, Hollywood has hesitated to put much effort behind the Christmas movies. Even years have passed without an important study release that contains holiday themes or connections. The absence of the Christmas movie is often attributed to the limitations of the launch windows and the limited opportunities for commercialization: these titles only have relevance in November / December and waiting a year between the theater and the domestic video is no longer an option .
But Netflix is ready to fill the void by launching a series of original films that operate somewhere between the Hallmark channel and the multiplex in terms of production values. This year presents The Holiday Calendar, The Princess Switch, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding and, positioned as its ornament tree, The Christmas Chronicles. He is being given a considerable marketing boost with the power of Kurt Russell and the influence of the production of Chris Columbus ("from the filmmakers who brought him home alone …") but, unfortunately, there are not a number of notifications mobile phones that can turn this into a movie worth seeing.
It opens with a polished montage year after year of home movies that relate the excitement of Christmas morning that is so hollywoodecida that is unlikely to make comparisons with the real experiences of viewers. It is also so oppressively happy that you know it will culminate in the absence of a family member by the time you arrive today. Indeed, the beloved father (Oliver Hudson) died tragically at work, and heroically saved the families of a burning house. This leaves mom (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) juggling her demanding work at the local hospital with the upbringing of her teenage son Teddy (Judah Lewis) and 10-year-old daughter Kate (Darby Camp).
Kate clings to Dad's favorite camcorder (a hilariously old-fashioned model even when the newspapers start in 2006) and presents herself with a video message to Santa. Meanwhile, Teddy is quickly becoming juvenile delinquency from minors drinking to stealing cars, an action that is portrayed with a shocking and small impact on a film aimed at families. After a painfully long prologue, we arrive on Christmas Eve and call Mom at the last moment to cover a night shift. Teddy and Kate let their brother's dysfunction ease up a bit and work together to set up a hidden camera in hopes of catching a glimpse of Santa. Seriously, there is so much action from the camcorder that one would think it was a spin-off of Paranormal Activity. Something abnormal happens, although not of the ghostly persuasion, since, in fact, Santa arrives.
Russell is the one who plays Santa Claus, who instantly brings a level of energy and professionalism that the film lacks. His comedic rhythm, his bright eyes and impressive beard are almost enough to inspire hope that the film will turn. But as soon as Santa arrives, we give away the worst green screen shoot of recent memory and all hope has been lost. Through a series of crazy events, Santa, Teddy and Kate end up stranded in Chicago, working together to fix Santa's sleigh, find his magic hat and track his flying reindeer. If they do not do it on time, a large percentage of children will not receive their Christmas gifts and that would be bad for everyone ("Did you ever hear about the Dark Ages?", Offers Santa as a warning).
They follow Hijinks and (we try) comforting and, before we know it, we find Santa locked in the slammer offering his own version of the prison rock. While Russell makes his impression of killer Elvis and little Steven and the cameo of Disciples of Soul as his support band, you might wonder, if this is still for children. The answer is that, for a minute or two, it's something else, flashes of an inspired version of the Christmas movie with enough to attract an audience beyond desperate parents and bored elementary school students. But in reality, the sequence is nothing more than an insignificant distraction born of Russell's talents (and probably, an important factor in the reason he made the film).
Between the atrocious work on the green screen, the brazen helicopter shots of the city's skyscrapers and the painfully obvious locations of Toronto for the United States, he would be forgiven for thinking that this film was made in 1992. If it were not for the criticism about Uber and fake news, Netflix could have sold this as a relic unearthed on the other side of the wind and we would believe them.
Fortunately, Christmas comes only once a year and the Netflix holiday movies will fade from your login screen very soon. That does not mean that Netflix should not keep trying. The world needs Christmas movies. They can offer a sense of unity or a normalization of family dysfunction. And the Christmas trees look great in the movie. Christmas Chronicles is not a Christmas chestnut, but Netflix has more freedom than a traditional studio to make one. Here is the hope of joy yuletide in 2019.