The Christmas Chronicles Parent Guide
Kurt Russell brings a level of cool to this film that Santa has been missing.
Parent Movie Review
The Pierces are preparing for their first Christmas since the death of their father (Oliver Hudson). Kate (Darby Camp) is trying her best to fill their home with the spirit of the holiday, but her mother (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) is overwhelmed with work and single parenting, and her older brother, Teddy (Judah Lewis), is only interested in hanging out with his troublemaking friends. Alone on Christmas Eve, Kate and Teddy set up a trap for Santa Claus (Kurt Russell), which ends up working a little too well, resulting in loose reindeer, a lost sack of presents, and a powerless Santa. With giftdelivery in danger and Christmas spirit dropping by the minute, Kate and Teddy team up with Santa to try to save Christmas before it’s too late.
First and foremost, let’s talk about Kurt Russell for a minute. He was born to play this role. Every step of his career has led to this exact moment, and we are not worthy. With anyone else in the red suit, this movie would have fallen flat on its face. Russell knows exactly what type of film he’s in, and he is having so much fun. He’s sincere and committed, but also leans into the silliness, and he brings a level of cool that I think Santa has been missing. Case in point, the climax of the story is a jazz musical number inside a jail cell led by Santa, and it is spectacular.
The broad strokes of the story are pretty generic; we’ve seen “kids help Santa save Christmas” a million times. Even though it’s unoriginal, this version does stand out, I think partially because of how weird it is. For example, usually the “teen boy on the wrong path” would be doing minor things, like shoplifting some candy, or going to parties, but not this time. Teddy literally steals a car within the first ten minutes. Let me repeat that: the writers decided that the best way to show the audience that Teddy is having a hard time is to have him commit grand theft auto. Go big or go home, I guess. And it just gets weirder from there. Santa gets arrested, elves throw a man out a window, our protagonists travel through wormholes, and a local bar and grill, which looks kind of like a Denny’s, has a valet service for some reason.
As far as content concerns go, it’s relatively clean, but I did find it to be weirdly dark for a family flick. It’s not scary, but there are quite a few crimes committed with varying degrees of consequence. There are some sweet messages about Christmas spirit, belief, grief, and anger, and you might even tear up once or twice. Overall, it’s a weird, fun entry into the Christmas holiday canon. If you don’t want to take my word for it, take my four-year old’s: “I loved the song in the prison”.Directed by Clay Kaytis. Starring Kurt Russell, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis. Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release November 22, 2018. Updated November 28, 2020
Watch the trailer for The Christmas Chronicles
The Christmas Chronicles
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Christmas Chronicles rated PG? The Christmas Chronicles is rated PG by the MPAA for mild action violence and brief language
Violence: A man holds up a baseball bat threateningly. A teenager steals a car. A man slips on ice and passes out. Some scenes of dangerous driving. Police officers point guns at characters. Santa is tackled to the ground by a police officer. A teen boy is threatened by criminals, then abducted by them. A girl is tied up with Christmas lights. Elves attack a group of criminals, which includes throwing a man out a window and swinging a chain saw around.
Sexual Content: Married couple kiss.
Profanity: Multiple uses of terms of deity. Insults including moron, jerk, and creep. Three mild expletives.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A young girl implies that her teen brother is sneaking out to drink beer. A scene takes place inside a restaurant with a bar; a man is seen slumped over at the bar. Santa says that a man is “slinging tequila shots”.
Page last updated November 28, 2020
The Christmas Chronicles Parents' Guide
Why is Teddy angry at his father? How does he learn to forgive his father and let go of his anger? Why is it important for him to believe in himself?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
For stories about the big guy in the red suit, you can’t beat Clement Moore’s original The Night Before Christmas.
For a beautifully illustrated story of a toymaker and his wife who became Father and Mother Christmas, check out The Untold Story of Father Christmas. Written by Alison and Mike Battle, this book is illustrated by Lauren A Mills.
One of our favorite Santa stories is Elise Primavera’s Auntie Claus. This picture book tells the story of young New Yorker, Sophie and her Auntie Claus, who lives in a festive whirl. One year, Sophie decides to find uncover the truth about her beloved aunt…
Is your child wondering if Santa’s real? Try turning the tables with Maureen Fergus’ fun tale, The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold. If Harold stops writing to Santa, does that mean Harold isn’t real? What’s Santa to think?
What is the North Pole really like? If your child wants an immersive look at Santa’s world, check out Rod Green’s Santa Claus: The Magical World of Father Christmas.
In Taro Gomi’s Presents Through the Window, a rushed Santa Claus starts tossing random gifts through windows. What’s going to happen in the morning?
We all love Christmas pop-up books. With Here Comes Santa, David Pelham has created a pop-up board book for even the youngest readers.
Related home video titles:
If you can’t get enough of Kurt Russell’s portrayal of Saint Nick, you’ll be happy to know that Netflix has made a sequel - The Christmas Chronicles 2.
Also on Netflix is Klaus, an animated story of a desperate postmaster who persuades a reclusive toymaker to make gifts in response to children’s letters.