A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Christmas Chronicles is a holiday adventure movie starring Kurt Russell that has enough edgy content to make it best for tweens and up. Characters do risky things like steal cars and climb telephone poles. Strong language includes a few uses of "damn" and "hell," plus insults like "moron." A kid almost says "s--t." The main characters are grieving the loss of their father, a firefighter who died saving others, during their first Christmas without him. A boy starts to tell his younger sister that there's no Santa but doesn't go through with it. Violence is mostly cartoonish mayhem, with no serious injuries, blood, or gore shown, but viewers will see punching, shoving, knocking down, and characters brandishing a baseball bat and a chainsaw. Characters are in danger, and Santa's CGI elves are cute but sometimes scary, too. A rock-and-roll musical number has slightly sexualized background singers and some innuendo in the way the song is performed. Holiday messages are mostly about how it wouldn't be Christmas without presents and Santa Claus, but positive themes include family unity and believing in yourself. The movie also sends the idea that it can be OK to do something naughty (even illegal) if it's for a good cause. Santa is portrayed with a gruff exterior, but he cares about the kids and will do anything to save Christmas.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES tells how siblings Teddy (Judah Lewis) and Kate (Darby Camp) sneak onto Santa's (Kurt Russell) sleigh on Christmas Eve, making the sleigh crash and Santa lose his magic hat and sack full of toys. Oh, and to top it all off, the reindeer are also MIA. If Santa doesn't deliver Christmas in time, the world will descend into another Dark Age where violence and chaos rule the day. So the three of them set out to make things right by retrieving the lost items and getting Santa's elves to help repair the sleigh. Along the way, Teddy steals a car (well, borrows a stolen car, really), Santa gets thrown in jail, and Kate finds herself alone in Santa's workshop at the North Pole. Can the three work together to save Christmas?
Is it any good?
This Christmas adventure has lots of kid appeal and excitement in a quest to save Christmas, but iffy behavior as well as dealing with parental loss make it best for tweens and up. The Christmas Chronicles features Hollywood veteran Kurt Russell playing a gruff Santa who doesn't do "ho, ho, ho!" and who doesn't like being portrayed as fat. But viewers old enough to handle the iffy messages, language, and themes of grieving will enjoy watching Kate and Teddy win him over. Director Clay Kaytis puts his CGI animation experience to good use, especially with the elves. They have a distinct look and sometimes an almost gremlin-like edginess that might be a bit scary for little kids, and some of the scenes seem like a bit of a marketing ploy designed to make kids want to collect them all. But tweens and up can appreciate them as refreshingly distinct from the usual visions.
It's easy to imagine producer Chris Columbus as having an influence over the inventive imagining of Santa's workshop and how to get there. The jailhouse rock-and-roll number feels gratuitous and ineffective as a way to spread Christmas spirit, but you could argue that a rock number like that is logical for something coming out of a holding cell. Parents and grandparents may enjoy looking for familiar faces in the band, as well as the inside-joke actress in a cameo as Mrs. Claus. It may not be an instant classic the whole family can enjoy, but tweens and up will enjoy the excitement and adventure, with a happy ending that wraps things up nicely.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about holiday messages in The Christmas Chronicles. What's the most important part of any holiday? Is it what you get, or something else?
Lots of people feel sad at holiday times because they miss loved ones who have passed away. If you've lost a loved one, what kinds of things help you feel better?
Is it OK to do something naughty or illegal if it's for a good cause? Why or why not? How do you know?
- On DVD or streaming: November 22, 2018
- Cast: Kurt Russell, Judah Lewis, Darby Camp
- Director: Clay Kaytis
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, Holidays
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: April 28, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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