- Rough Cut Staff
The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two is Faux-Heartwarming Garbage
2018’s The Christmas Chronicles was a minor surprise: a holiday hit, the birth of a new Santa Claus (helly, Kurt Russell), and a heart-warming joyride down the rabbit hole of faith in ourselves, in each other, in something. You’d imagine, then, that 2020’s sequel, the creatively titled The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two, would riff on that formula, adding Goldie Hawn and Julian Dennison to the mix to churn out a similarly joyous if formulaic trip to the North Pole.
Fuck that. Give us as much CGI as possible.
If my heart had been constructed in a visual effects lab, it might have been warmed by The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two. Departing from the grounded family story of its predecessor, Netflix’s latest Christmas story carpet-bombs the viewer with CGI Christmas at every turn, mistaking more for good, and then going even further. It opens on a painfully rendered island vacation, the perfect accompaniment to the dreary acting of Tyrese Gibson and Kimberly Williams-Paisley and the brutal dialogue, even for a kids’ movie. Things only go off the rails from there as Kate Pierce (Darby Camp reprising her role from the first movie) and her soon-to-be step-brother, Jack (a bright spot played by Jazhir Bruno), are whisked away to the North Pole by a fallen elf through a wormhole in the aurora borealis.
If that all sounds ludicrous, it’s because it is. And while the first film found its good in its weird, this one fails to anchor its insanity in...anything. Writer-director and children’s movie legend Christopher Columbus took over the reigns of the sequel, and it’s as if a higher budget from Netflix gave him carte blanche to design every scene by asking “wouldn’t this look cool??”
What if Santa used the reindeer to chase a wolf?
What if the elves used cannons to shower the North Pole in snow?
What if, what if, what if?
Goldie Hawn’s listless performance suggests a terrible bait-and-switch in her casting, and Julian Dennison (who played the legendary Ricky Baker in 2016’s The Hunt for the Wilderpeople) certainly deserves better. And the worst part is that amidst all the chaos, Part Two can’t help but fall into the exact narrative pitfalls and genre tropes that one might expect from a children’s Christmas movie. If you’re stuck in the house this holiday season, turn on the old classics. Whatever you do, don’t watch The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two.