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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Christmas Chronicles 2, like the original, has some action that could scare younger viewers. The film's length and aspects of the story and character details might also prove overwhelming for them. Some plot points are questionable, such as parents leaving their kids alone at a Mexican resort for a night, or that two kids would pick a lock to break out of a holding cell. Sure enough, the kids' adventure begins when they're abducted the night their parents are away. They're tossed from a moving golf cart into a wormhole and left to potentially die from frostbite in the snows of the North Pole. The kids continue to face repeated peril and attacks, including from an animated oversized "Yule Cat." The cat's fight with Dasher leaves the reindeer injured and whimpering. Speedy sleigh chases are similarly nail-biting. But the kids always emerge stronger, wiser, and physically unharmed. Language includes "buzzkill," "scaredy cat," "freaking," "brat," "suck," and "butt cheek." There are burps and whoopee cushion-created farts. Both kids have lost parents, and Kate's encounter with her father as a teen when she travels back in time is emotional. The kids are reminded of the importance of family, and all the film's characters learn the value of love and the uplifting spirit of Christmas.
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What's the story?
When THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2 begins, Kate Pierce (Darby Camp) and her family are on vacation in Cancun, Mexico. Kate has two problems with this. First, they were invited by Kate's mom's new boyfriend (Tyrese Gibson), the first serious relationship the young widow has had since her husband, and Kate's dad, died. Second, in Kate's opinion, Christmas shouldn't be celebrated in the tropics. A "True Believer," Kate prays to Santa to take her away from this holiday nightmare. What she doesn't expect is to be abducted by a disgruntled elf, Belsnickel (Julian Dennison), whose naughty behavior has transformed him into a human and made him intent on destroying Christmas forever. Kate's soon-to-be stepbrother, Jack (Jahzir Bruno), is abducted with her, and the two are sent to Santa's Village as bait to lure Santa (Kurt Russell) and Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn) into Belsnickel's evil trap.
Is it any good?
The Christmas Chronicles 2 is a holiday blend of action, adventure, comedy, and some drama packed into one gift-wrapped package. The bow on top is Russell, who is charming as Santa and commands every scene, including a hilarious song and dance number at Logan Airport during a disgruntled holiday traffic day. (The acrobatic dance moves of Santa and an airport police officer shouldn't be missed.) By his side, real-life partner Hawn is maternal and sweet as Mrs. Claus. The animated characters, particularly the snuggly elves, complement the actors.
It does feel like there's one idea too many stuffed into this stocking, and the film gets a little tiring at nearly two hours long. Could the opening act be shortened? Is the Boston Airport scene, while full of emotions, entirely relevant to the plot? Is the Santa origin tale, told by Mrs. Claus as a bedtime story, totally necessary? Parents might get a chuckle out of Belsnickel's naughty behavior, which includes a whoopee cushion, some graffiti on Santa's sleigh, and cursing to the degree of "Bah humbug!" But they'll also be the first to wish the editors had been just a little more disciplined in wrapping up this holiday gift.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what is meant by "the spirit of Christmas" in The Christmas Chronicles 2. Where do we see that spirit on display in the film? Have you ever experienced or witnessed the holiday spirit in your life?
If you saw the original Christmas Chronicles, how do the films compare? Do you have a favorite holiday movie?
What did you think of the combination of live action and animation? Which characters did you like the best and worst?
- On DVD or streaming: November 25, 2020
- Cast: Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Darby Camp
- Director: Chris Columbus
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Holidays
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild action/violence and brief language
- Last updated: November 30, 2020
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