So I ask myself. I say; “Self, what makes for a perfect Christmas movie?”
Well, when I was growing up on the Jersey Shore, the television signals that my TV set captured, originated out of; The Big Apple (New York City). The great state of New Jersey in which I lived, really didn’t have its own station back then, except for the VHS channels. No one really watched them. This is way back when; The 1970’s – 1980’s. I did get into The Uncle Floyd Show (1974-1995). Quirky and more times than not, solid entertainment. It came on in the late afternoon during the workweek. After a long day at the job, I’d eat dinner and watch (every once in a while).
Every Christmas season back then, WPIX Channel 11 (NYC NY USA) would play the 1947 Christmas motion picture; Miracle On 34TH Street. When a teen and older, if I turned on the television and it was on, I’d yet again fall into it’s enchanting Christmas spell.
Decades later arrived an equally well-done Christmas flick called; A Christmas Story (1983). Has one of my favorite actors in it; Darren McGavin (1922-2006). Small world…Darren was drinking buddies with a regular blue-collar guy who I guess was around his age, and who also was also my boss when I was washing dishes professionally (full time) at age 16. I dropped out of school and got my G.E.D. a year before I would have graduated high school. Time was money. Was an orphan/foster kid. In order to have cash in my pocket, I had to work. The position which paid minimum wage was an entry-level job to the restaurant business. Besides making new again/sanitizing plates and silverware, I also cleaned bathrooms, mopped floors, and bussed tables. Was a character builder for sure. Long story short, I worked up the ranks and burned out within a few years. Stressful atmosphere. Ended up a heavy drinker. Making a living like that can do it to you.
A treat back then besides sucking down a pint of Jack Daniels, was going to the local movie theater. I remember the star of the Netflix film I am about to talk about, having done some Disney flicks, that I watched when I was a youngin. The actor; Kurt Russell (Escape From New York). All these years later with close to 60 motion picture credits (roles) to his name, and he’s again doing family fare. In doing so he’s giving us his spin on one of the most recognizable names in history; Santa Clause. Not the traditional Saint Nick you might be accustomed to knowing. Think a more badass (in a good way) version. Goes to the gym. In my world, he’d be the kind of guy you would not mind drinking an adult beverage with. The guys got a remarkable memory. The entertaining tales he could tell. There is a Mrs. Claus (we’d know not to get too carried away). The good woman is mentioned periodically during, The Christmas Chronicles. Myself, I’m twice divorced (on paper a combined total of 36 years) and nowadays answerable to no one. Not as bad as it sounds. Am getting quite accustomed to being single.
The Christmas Chronicles (2018 Netflix)
By the time I’m done, my answer to the question I started off with, will include this family-oriented holiday modern day masterpiece. Better than I honestly thought it would be. What more could a person hope for when it comes to picking out a new Christmas tale, that is so well done? The acting, filming, effects, EVERYTHING … coming together to make the perfect bow. Parents from all over the globe (where applicable) could sit down with their underdeveloped/not fully functional human beings; children (of all ages) and have no concern that any part of this one hour and 44-minute original story will upset or reputable harm to their sponge-like minds in any way. It’s actually a well thought out heartwarming story. Not one I am usually attracted to nowadays. Nor do I go out of my way to see. It’s family entertainment. And yes, unattached singles can watch it also. Not that I’m into smut, but I do lean towards more adult fare. Reading promo about ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ I learned not only of actor Kurt Russell’s involvement, but that this new Netflix offering also had a classic rock vibe. Frankly, that could be good or bad. If you didn’t know, there is a shitload of just dreadful Christmas tunes out there. Understanding all too well, I nevertheless during the first week that ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ was dropped on the popular streaming channel, that I picked up some AWEsome Chinese BBQ Pork Fried Rice from a near-by local eatery (Canton Garden Restaurant), and settled in to give it my full attention.
The story starts in the year, 2006. Christmas time. Young parents of one small child; Ted (Teddy). Next year it’s Christmas again, and we see the family having a new addition. A daughter; Kate. Years go by. More Christmas films. Tragically the handsome father dies. Established after the year 2017. By 2018 Christmas Eve, the family had almost completely deteriorated. The glue holding everything together was missing. Mom doing her best. Working (nurse) all she could so take care of the household bills and keep a roof over their head. Kate’s older brother, now age sixteen, without his Dad in his life, had become a budding juvenile delinquent. Kate films him with the old family video camcorder, Ted and some friends, stealing a car. Been there and done that. This part of the story really caught my attention. Confession…at age 16 I had helped steal cars myself. For the same charge, I missed being an active participant in the 70’s documentary ‘Scared Straight‘, by just one week. Not bragging. Both my parents were dead. I was mad at the world. Check it out…happy ending. I did sooner or later pull my BIG head from my inner anal cavities. Took long enough (my late 20’s). I avoided jail (for the most part). Just proved that anything is possible, as long as one sets their mind to things. And not that it preaches any, but that is also in part the same positive message one can take away after viewing ‘The Christmas Chronicles’.
Santa Claus To The Rescue
The lowest of lows, with Mom off to work, Katie (Darby Camp) is seen in the kitchen eating freshly baked Christmas cookies while reviewing old Christmas camcorder footage. Making the best of things. Having seen this particular video more than once, this time around, she spots something new. A red blur. Almost 11 years old, she’s immediately convinced its, Santa Claus. Is still a true believer. And then comes an idea to catch Santa in the act (of delivering presents). A deal with her brother Teddy (Judah Lewis) takes place. He helps her film Santa and as a reward, he gets the camcorder video of him and his friends committing the crime, that occurred earlier in the day. He’s 16, a nonbeliever, and in his mind, not stupid. Has no problem participating. Instead of decorating the house for Mom (in which she asked before leaving for work that day), they booby trap the house so to know when Santa arrives. Before 11 PM in Lowell, Massachusetts, both of them have now fallen asleep. The alarms worked. For they were awoken and immediately run off blindly following sounds, which leads them to an adventure every kid would love to take on Christmas Eve and during the wee hours of the next day; to Chicago. I’ve been there myself a couple times. A thousand miles from where these two kids lived. No other way to say it. This is how it happened. Katie and Ted caused Santa to crash his sled. The one that was attached to 8 reindeer, that can fly. Ever get spooked by a back seat driver? Kind of like that. Santa was certainly surprised when he realized he had two human stowaways. The prediction afterward from him was they ruined Christmas for everyone. Forever on the naughty list. Unless…
“A Pierce always sees it through”
So far what I touched on happens at the beginning of, The Christmas Chronicles. During the first 20 minutes. If a story doesn’t grab me by then, frankly, it’s not happening. If I’ve seen one movie in my life, I’ve seen a thousand. A lot of them were Charles Band films. Just saying, and my first one by this director: Clay Kaytis.
Doing the work for you, I recommend settling in and checking out the rest yourself. I promise…pretty solid! The director (Clay Kaytis) did an outstanding job assembling all that was needed for this original Netflix movie to work. Easy to tell that a lot of time when into detail. Artistically…impressive! A fun (even with serious life overtones) – feel good Christmas motion picture that like the two classic Christmas films I mentioned at the beginning of this write up, will be routinely viewed and enjoyed by folks of all ages every Christmas from here on out. Easy prediction.
Part of my reporting is to point out that Netflix says The Christmas Chronicles is rated ‘PG’ (parental guidance). I don’t have children in my life (thank God) and stopped paying attention to ratings, except for the purpose of doing reviews like this, a long ass time ago. Long story short … as a whole, I appreciate presentations (such as movies and television shows) that don’t insult my intelligence. No matter what the ‘rating‘ is. Back to the kids … if in the single digits I feel whatever child is glued to the screen when this is on, without the parental unit(s) being around, will be just fine. A large percentage will go on to lead productive lives. Others, a drain on society. Heads or tails, it’s mainstream American, circa: 2018. Old farts like myself, smile and hope for the best.
Next topic. The Christmas Chronicles – Music. It does have a lovely score. Not a note out of place. Perfect background sounds for whatever visual is going on throughout. Now, what about this classic rock connection? There are snippets of holiday tunes that do indeed give it a festive rock n’ roll connection. Nothing as much as an appearance of; Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. In order for this to happen, Saint Nick must get arrested. In Chicago, how hard can this be? The song performed; Santa Claus Is Back In Town. Totally kicks ass! In the credits, Mr. Russell; lead vocals. And his performance is character correct. It is exactly what you’d expect having watched ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ up to this point. A good example of consistency.
“Uncle G” TIP of the Day
If looking to make this an unforgettable Kurt Russell double feature, in other words, ONE is not enough, follow up watching The Christmas Chronicles with; John Carpenter’s The Thing (after sending the young ones to bed). No more junk food. More Chinese food carry-out, or delivery (if feeling lazy). Even if seen before, this remake of ‘The Thing From Another World’ is one of those horror movies one can never get bored with. Let it be said that Kirk Russell picks out good roles for himself. No argument there. Ever check out; Bone Tomahawk? Back in 2015 when that came out, I did a write-up. Found here on the Classic Rock Radio (UK) website and also on my archival website.
“Uncle G” RATES … The Christmas Chronicles (2018 Netflix)
Using the same ten-star rating system that IMDb website uses, I give Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles; 10 stars! It’s yet one more reason as to why subscribe to Netflix. Should age well, even with the ‘fake news’ line. Some things never get old (tired). Ho Ho Ho … Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays (to one and all)…indeed!
The Christmas Chronicles Netflix Webpage: https://www.netflix.com/title/80199682
Gary “Uncle G” Brown Archives: www.garyunclegbrownarchives.com