The Christmas Chronicles is a budding Christmas classic. It also happens to be the first Netflix original movie that I saw. I watched it as soon as it dropped on Thanksgiving and was pleasantly surprised. Lately it seems like there aren’t enough good Christmas movies being made. The Christmas Chronicles is full of Christmas spirit in a very unexpected way. I was mostly drawn in by the idea of Kurt Russell playing Santa Claus.
The Christmas Chronicles begins with the traditional set up of a family enjoying Christmas every year. Until an unfortunate turn of events leaves the family without their father. Making the season even tougher for them to get through. The older Teddy acts out and his younger sister Kate still believes in Santa. When their mom has to work on Christmas Eve, Teddy agrees to help his sister Kate catch Santa. Things take a sudden tonal shift as soon as Santa shows up. Russell’s Santa is a major scene stealer who’s thinner, has rugged good looks, and doesn’t say “Ho, ho, ho.”
The Christmas Chronicles is a lot like Adventures in Babysitting. They end up lost in Chicago with a crashed sleigh, loose reindeer, and a missing sack full of toys. Santa even gets arrested, but a hip musical number does the trick. Another tonal shift comes when we finally see the elves. Which are small, fuzzy, computer animated, and only speak Elvish. Mrs. Claus even shows up at the end played by Russell’s partner Goldie Hawn. It’s a harrowing night, but all is well when Christmas is restored. The Christmas Chronicles is a refreshingly joyous Christmas hit with plenty of charm. Happy New Year everyone!
Santa gets the job done
Followed by: The Christmas Chronicles 2
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is a cold end to this unnecessary Christmas trilogy. While the trailers seemed to promise a festive adventure through an upside down world where Scott Calvin never became Santa, it couldn’t be more deceptive. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is actually about wacky in-law antics. When Carol’s parents come to the North Pole to meet their son-in-law. Not knowing he’s Santa Claus. Jack Frost is a main character, but he’s just sort of hanging out through most of it. When he does hear about the new clause, he devises a plan to steal the coat from the first movie. Then almost like an afterthought, Jack Frost becomes Santa and turns the North Pole into a theme park. Scott stops him and it’s over as soon as it begins. Since most of the actors are older, Curtis is now the Head Elf and Lucy is now the central kid. The jokes are way less funny and it’s obvious Tim Allen is just doing this for a paycheck now. The only actor who seems to be having fun is Martin Short as Jack Frost. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is an unfortunate downfall for this otherwise cheery trilogy.
Jack Frost makes a plan behind Santa’s back
Preceded by: The Santa Clause 2
The Santa Clause 2 is the second installment in what would turn out to be the Santa Clause trilogy. It was actually the first Santa Clause movie I saw, because one of my classmates brought it in to watch for our Christmas party. Then my mom told me about the original and that’s why I still enjoy The Santa Clause 2. Even though it’s a bit more of a mixed reception compared to the original. This time Scott Calvin’s Santa Claus must deal with a new clause. One that states that he must find a Mrs. Claus or risk no longer being Santa (just to get Tim Allen out of his makeup). Of course if you know romantic comedies you know how it’s gonna go, but it doesn’t make his relationship with Carol any less sweet. While that’s going on, a hilarious Toy Santa played by a plastic Tim Allen is left in his place that Bernard and new character Curtis have to deal with. Unlike most sequels with gaps, The Santa Clause 2 actually maintains every original actor. Even the now grown up actor who played Charlie. There’s also another new character named Lucy who’ll be important later. The Santa Clause 2 is much more child friendly. Introducing things like a CGI reindeer named Chet or the Council of Legendary Figures (Mother Nature, Father Time, Cupid, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman). It’s silly, but I still love The Santa Clause 2 just as much as the original.
Scott Calvin askes Carol to marry him
Preceded by: The Santa Clause & Followed by: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
The Santa Clause is a unique interpretation of Santa Claus. Scott Calvin is the worst thing you could be in the 90’s, a workaholic divorced dad. Scott spends one fateful Christmas Eve with his son Charlie. That’s when they hear something on the roof. Which turns out to be Santa Claus himself. When Scott yells at him, he accidentally makes him fall off the roof. Being a kid at the time, you don’t really read too much into it, but he basically kills Santa. The Santa Clause actually refers to a clause in a contract which states that if Santa should die, the job goes to whoever puts on the red suit. It’s mainly responsible for my generation being unable to spell Santa Claus properly. Right in the midst of his Home Improvement popularity, Tim Allen is one of the funniest actors to play Santa. Mainly for his slow transformation into Santa Claus. He starts to gain weight he can never lose, his appetite for sweets increases, and he keeps growing a beard. Their interpretation of elves is also unique. Instead of little people, they use children (it is Disney afterall). Expect for Head Elf Bernard. The reindeer, specifically Comet, are mostly achieved through puppetry. Their explanation of Santa going down a chimney is that his sack can fly into one that will magically appear. The main conflict comes from Scott’s ex-wife and her psychiatrist husband thinking he’s unfit to be around Charlie. Of course everything turns out fine in the end. Making The Santa Clause a Christmas movie I’m always happy to watch every year.
Scott Calvin puts on the Santa suit
Followed by: The Santa Clause 2
Deck the Halls is one of the worst Christmas movies ever made. Sporting a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, Deck the Halls is all about decorating. I know there’s been a movie made about literally every facesit of Christmas, but come on. It just seemed like an excuse to use another famous Christmas carol as a title. I remember when Deck the Halls came out. It was part of three trailers that premiered on Nickelodeon. Night at the Museum, Eragon, and of course Deck the Halls. It didn’t make me want to see it then, so I begrudgingly saw it now. Call me crazy, but I didn’t totally hate it. Not that it isn’t filled with a hundred “roll your eyes” moments, gross out humor, and a lot of sexual innuendos for a family film. Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito play neighbors at war with one another. The previews may make it seem like their competing decorators, but it makes even less sense. DeVito’s character actually lights up his house so that it can be seen from Google Earth. Nothing they say can make that premise make sense. Despite how understandable his frustrations are, Broderick’s character comes across more as the jerk. Making Deck the Halls another “protagonist is a jerk the entire time before suddenly learning their lesson at the end” Christmas movie.
Miracle on 34th Street (1994) is a Christmas movie that shouldn’t exist, but there’s no problem that it does. It was released in the mid-90’s and a lot of my generation probably grew up with it. I wasn’t one of them since I wasn’t like most kids growing up. I watched the original first and didn’t watch the remake until a little later. Even though it employs many people who were big at the time. Like John Hughes, Elizabeth Perkins, or child star Mara Wilson. With this being one of her three biggest roles at the time (the other two being Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda). Plus you can’t go wrong with Dr. Hammond himself Richard Attenborough as Santa Claus. Miracle on 34th Street (1994) overall has the exact same story. There are just a few cosmetic changes. Like Kris Kringle using sign language instead of speaking Dutch with a little girl. Despite what my title may suggest, Macy’s is not used in the movie and neither is Gimbels. Macy’s because they didn’t want to be involved in the remake. Gimbels because they went out of business. The deciding factor in the court case was also changed. Let’s just say it involves American currency instead of the mail. Miracle on 34th Street (1994) is harmless enough, but I like to stick to the classics.
Susan (right) comes to see Santa Claus (left)
Remake of: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Merry Christmas everyone! Miracle on 34th Street is the last Christmas movie to be nominated for Best Picture. Winning for Best Original Story, Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor Edmund Gwenn. Oddly enough, Miracle on 34th Street came out one year after It’s a Wonderful Life. Which was also nominated in the same category. In terms of which one deserves the title of greatest Christmas movie of all time, I’d say they’re about even. Miracle on 34th Street is just a lot more focused on Christmas. Using it for the entire movie. Instead of just the moral and third act. The only problem is something someone did to the movie long after its release. Miracle on 34th Street was one of the first full-length black & white films to be colorized. It was a terrible process that ruined all the classics with stiff unnatural color. You’re a mean one Mr. Turner. Luckily the process ended after the guy considered doing the same with Citizen Kane. I’m so glad my mom told my brother and I to seek out the original Miracle on 34th Street. It’s so much better…
Susan (right) comes to see Santa Claus (left)
Miracle on 34th Street begins with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. A kindly older gentlemen using a cane agrees to fill in to play Santa Claus after the previous actor turns up drunk. He’s so good that he’s also hired to be Macy’s mall Santa on 34th street in New York. Why is he so good? It’s because his name is Kris Kringle and he is, in fact, the real Santa Claus. Edmund Gwenn is the best actor ever to take on the role of Santa. His genuine warmth is everything Santa should be. Not everyone believes Kris though. The woman who hired him, Doris, raised her daughter Susan not to believe in fairy tales since she herself is recently divorced. This was Natalie Wood’s first starring performance and she brings a lot of maturity to the her role. While also showing Susan’s innocence when she asks Kris for a house for her mother on Christmas. Even though Kris’ beard is real, he’s able to communicate with a little Dutch girl, and he suggests other places for people to shop (just so they can get what they need). His kind behaviour still manages to get him institutionalized. Eventually leading to a court case deciding once and for all if Kris Kringle is Santa Claus. With Doris’ neighbor Fred acting as Kris’ lawyer. It’s one of the best court battle’s in film. That’s where the iconic moment where people bring in bags of letters addressed to Santa into court comes from. In the end, it’s never made explicitly clear if Kris is Santa, but I think we all know what to believe in our hearts. Making Miracle on 34th Street a Christmas movie that can never be duplicated or improved on. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!
Kris joins Susan and her mother for Christmas
White Christmas is a bit of a spiritual sequel to Holiday Inn. In the way that it was only made because the song “White Christmas” was such a hit. Having won Best Original Song for that film. What makes the song so good is how it perfectly describes snow. As a kid, the first snowfall really does make the perfect Christmas. That’s why its stood the test of time. Unlike Holiday Inn, White Christmas is in color and it’s the first film to use VistaVision. One of the earliest examples of widescreen in film. Thankfully there’s also no blackface since that was no longer a thing in the 50’s. The only real connection is the use of the song and Bing Crosby. White Christmas opens with soldiers supporting the troops at Christmas. After Phil saves Bob’s life, the two of them become a double act. They also meet another double act called the “Haynes Sisters” and they both become smitten. The conflict comes when all four of them decide to put on a show at an inn (another similarity) for there old ageing Army general. White Christmas is much lighter and filled with many great song and dance numbers. They even make good use of the titular song by having the characters wish for snow. The song it was nominated for this time was “Count Your Blessings.” Another sweet song. White Christmas reminds us that the best things happen while you’re dancing. Merry Christmas Eve!
Wallace & Davis put on a show with the Haynes Sisters
Holiday Inn is the movie that originated the song “White Christmas.” Not White Christmas like so many people assume. It’s also considered one of the all time best Christmas movies even though it’s not technically centered around Christmas. Holiday Inn actually centers around every observed holiday throughout the year at the time. Specifically New Years Eve, Lincoln’s Birthday, St. Valentine’s Day, Washington’s Birthday, Easter Sunday, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and of course Christmas Eve. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire play Jim and Ted respectively. Jim is a singer and Ted is a dancer. They both run a popular show in New York. When a woman comes between them, Jim bids farewell, starting a new show of his own on a farm. Dubbing it Holiday Inn, Jim puts on a show once for every previously mentioned holiday. His star player and romantic interest is Linda. The new woman who comes between him and Ted. Holiday Inn is filled with many great song and dance numbers. “White Christmas” is just the one that’s stood the test of time. With some calling it one of the best Christmas songs ever written. Of course I can’t talk about Holiday Inn without mentioning the “elephant in the room.” One of the performances involves blackface. It’s important to know that the 40’s was a very different time. Though I can’t help feeling really uncomfortable watching it (being part black myself). With the exception of that scene, Holiday Inn is still a “mostly” Christmas classic.
Jim (center) tries to keep Ted (right) and Linda (left) away from each other
I’ll Be Home for Christmas is another bad forgotten Christmas movie. I’ve only seen the movie once, but I feel like I’ve seen it many times, because a VHS tape I watched frequently had an I’ll Be Home for Christmas teaser on it. Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a big star back in the 90’s, having recently left Home Improvement. He stars as Jake, an egotistical jerk who was rightfully dumped in the middle of the desert dressed as Santa. Why is he an egotistical jerk? Because his dad wants him home for Christmas and bribing him with a porsche is the only reason he goes. He also somehow has a girlfriend. Played by Jessica Biel, who was known for 7th Heaven at the time. He wants to take her to a tropical climate, but she wants to go home for Christmas. When Jake is stranded, his girlfriend has to accept a ride from his rival. From there, Jake takes advantage of old ladies, criminals, cops, sick kids, a race for charity, and his own sister all for a car. Can you believe this is a Disney movie? I’ll Be Home for Christmas is neither funny, nor cheerful.
Jake (left) hitches a ride