As a child, I found Santa Claus to be a pretty scary character. He had that list. He saw me when I was sleeping. He knew when I was awake. He knew if I had been bad or good — and good for goodness sake never made any sense to me. I was good cuz I wanted that Cobra Terror Drome playset, but wanting to side with the enemies of G.I. Joe was probably a mark against me.
Santa was waiting for Christmas so he could dump a lump of coal in my stocking because I forgot to thank my mom for that one meal on that one night. I wasn’t stupid. I knew how the game works.
Now, comes The Christmas Chronicles, the first Santa adventure starring the St. Nick from those childhood nightmares. Kurt Russell can be jolly, but his Santa is not one to take gruff. There are rules, and you must abide by them. Who knows what penance a child must make to get off that Naughty List once trapped upon it? No simple confession will absolve you from your greed.
Dammit. Just look at that massive card catalog. Santa is not working off memory. He has a system. He has helpers. Your every decision in life has been recorded and weighed against others. Tread carefully, the Holiday is right around the corner, and your Terror Drome is within reach. You don’t want to lose that grasp because you ignored a polite courtesy towards your sister or brother.
With very few exceptions, I have no love for Christmas movies. More often than not they are schmaltzy commercial pap featuring dopey children and impossibly wizened fat men. After A Christmas Story, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Gremlins, Die Hard, and Santa’s Slay, I am all booked up on holiday movie cheer.
Then Netflix goes and drops a Kurt Russell Santa on me? Yeah, ok. That’s a lap I’ll cozy up towards because it’s a lap I know I have to earn. He’s not going to fall for the milk and cookies routine. As I once feared, this is a Santa I will have to work hard to land on the Nice List. So, if he needs me to cover for him when talking to Mrs. Claus, I will.
The Christmas Chronicles is directed by Clay Kaytis. He worked his way through various animation departments at Disney before taking the reigns on The Angry Birds Movie. Let’s not hold that against him. He’s toiled away on most of your recent animated favorites like Frozen, Tangled, and Wreck-It Ralph, and it’s not like you wouldn’t have jumped at the opportunity to direct a film based on a popular app game. Don’t be such a snob. Remember, stay off that Naughty List.
Trust in Russell. Bone Tomahawk, The Hateful Eight, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were simply test-runs for the ultimate cinematic beard. Where can an actor possibly take facial hair after inhabiting the bushiest of bushy beards? Maybe he’s going to hang that beautiful chinstrap up after The Christmas Chronicles. Naw. You don’t retire that beast once you’ve grown it. He’s going to need it for the sequels.
The Christmas Chronicles hits Netflix on November 22nd.