The Christmas Chronicles

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
The Christmas Chronicles Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Edgy, exciting Santa adventure has iffy behavior, peril.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 55 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 19 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Christmas spirit is powerful, and people need Christmas to remind them of how good they can be. You have to believe in yourself the way those who love you believe in you. Families need to stick together, work together, help each other through difficult times. Brief, iffy message about gender when Kate complains that older brother Teddy says skateboards aren't for girls. Iffy body-image messages from Santa, who resents being portrayed as fat.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Santa has gruff exterior but genuinely cares about Kate and Teddy, all children. He'll do what it takes to save Christmas, prevent world from becoming more violent, chaotic. He's willing to bend rules, be a little naughty for good cause. Teddy has let anger, grief rule his emotions, has started down criminal path: He and friends hot-wire/steal a car, he ignores responsibilities at home. Eventually he learns not to give up on himself, to let go of his anger. Kate is still a true believer in Santa Claus; her belief, determination make those around her better people. Plenty of reckless behavior (e.g., climbing up telephone pole, driving stolen car and being chased by police) form part of the adventure.


Teddy throws shoe at Kate's head; she reacts to the pain very briefly. A fight between Kate and Teddy involves shoving, scuffling, knocking things over, breaking a picture frame. A bad guy threatens Santa with a baseball bat. A scuffle with bad guys has elbowing, shoving, brandishing of heavy pipe. Fantasy violence includes fight between bad guys and elves with cartoon-style punches, kicks, mayhem. An elf threatens Teddy with a chainsaw. Crimes such as armed robbery, money laundering, and grand theft auto mentioned. Some scariness from characters in danger from falling, crashing, being burned, car and sleigh crashes, and almost being hit by an airplane.


A married couple kisses. A musical number featuring "Santa Claus is Back in Town" has slightly sexualized background singers, women jailed seemingly for prostitution whose clothing magically becomes Santa-style dresses; the song as performed by Santa also has some mild sexual innuendo.


"Hell," "damn," and "dammit." A kid almost says "s--t." Rare calling names includes "moron."


A Sony video camera. Junk food like Cheez-Its, a regional ice cream brand, and Yoo-hoo. Some name-brand toys like Hot Wheels and Star Wars.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAlexMcQ December 1, 2018

Exciting but touches on heavy subjects

My 10 year old loved all of the action. My 4 year old was a little scared at times. The beginning sets a sombre and questionable tone but the movie quickly rede... Continue reading
Parent Written byHelen M. November 23, 2018

Thanks 9 and 7 here so it’s a no :(

Love Christmas movies. Just wish they would stay away from the bit of not believing and then believing It’s confusing for young ones and puts the thought in... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byavogel1246 November 23, 2018

really good

loved it! it is good for little kids. good movie for believers
Teen, 16 years old Written byTyrell_44 December 21, 2018

Good but.....

As a 16 year old about to be an adult in 2 years, i really shouldn’t be watching movies like this by myself BUT! Once when i was a few minutes in and the little... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

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