The Christmas Chronicles 2 (3 stars)

The Christmas Chronicles 2

Chris Columbus returns to the Christmas film as he takes over for an entertaining sequel

With the way we should celebrate Christmas up for debate as never before, it adds an unlikely resonance to a film which is otherwise solidly and sometimes spectacularly fantastical. 2018 Netflix hit The Christmas Chronicles probably did enough to earn a sequel and its director Clay Kaytis handing the sleigh reins to none other than Chris Columbus (the director of two Home Alone and Harry Potter films of course, who produced the original) feels like a step up in an entry that plays heavily on our festive film nostalgia.

Saving Christmas is once again the objective but the plot is distinct enough. It sees 'true believer' Kate (Darby Camp) targeted by disgruntled former elf Belsnickel (Hunt for the Wilderpeople's Julian Dennison), who uses her as a ploy to get inside the 'Veil of Borealis' and infiltrate Santa's Village. Kate had been unhappily holidaying in Cancun during the festive period, with her mother (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), brother Teddy (Judah Lewis), her mother's nice new boyfriend Bob (Tyrese Gibson) and Bob's son Jack (Jahzir Bruno from The Witches). When she's lured into a wormhole to the North Pole, Kate and stowaway Jack must help Santa (Kurt Russell) save the day when Belsnickel causes chaos.

Santa is joined by Mrs Claus this time round, played by Russell's real-life partner Goldie Hawn, who builds on her brief, end-of-film cameo in the previous instalment. Delightfully, she has her own magical talents and is behind much of the village workshops' innovation, leading Kate to point out that, 'It should be called Mrs Claus's Village,' with Santa begrudgingly admitting, 'It might be time for a change.' Santa has traditionally been cuddly, very elderly and benignly asexual, but returning star Russell brings a mischievous glint and some action hero edge to the role, as his Santa strides about displaying his more potent masculinity.

Lovely touches include a Triple-A powered time machine, It's a Wonderful Life dubbed into Elvish, Santa reacting to 'Bah, humbug' like it's a dirty word, and there's another OTT musical number, this time in the form of a duet with Darlene Love. Rather shamelessly, Columbus takes us back at one point to 1990, the year of Home Alone's release, where there's a woman melting down in an airport trying to get on a flight to Chicago. The Gremlin-esque appearance of the elves is capitalised on, too, when they go bad and have to be wrangled with. And the film branches out to nod to other family favourites like The Wizard of Oz and Back to the Future.

The narrative is a little convoluted and there's some typical blended family angst, which we saw a near-identical manifestation of in the recent animated adventure Over the Moon. Still, the combination of elements is undeniably crowd-pleasing, Camp and Bruno get stuck into some enjoyable derring-do and Russell's 'sexy' take on Santa is truly one for the ages.

Available to watch on Netflix from Wed 25 Nov.

The Christmas Chronicles 2

  • 3 stars
  • 2020
  • US
  • 1h 52min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Chris Columbus
  • Cast: Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Judah Lewis, Darby Camp, Julian Dennison
  • UK release: 25 November 2020

Kurt Russell returns as Santa Claus – this time accompanied by Goldie Hawn – in this Netflix movie sequel.