Christmas Chronicles 2 Wonderfully Cast, Underwhelmingly Written

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Christmas Chronicles 2

Kurt Russell is the most unique choices to cast in the role of Santa Claus. He's also one of the best choices, as this Santa is not just a kind and gentle spirit, he's also a man of action.

THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2 is a sequel to the original in the same vein as the sequels to THE SANTA CLAUSE -- slightly lesser, slightly sillier follow-ons that don't quite measure up to the original, despite all the original characters brought back (with new ones). This go-round Russell brings with him Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus (who made a surprise appearance at the end of the first movie), while Darby Camp and Judah Lewis return as Kate and Teddy Pierce, with Kimberly Williams-Paisley as their mom, Claire. New to the franchise is Tyrese Gibson as Bob, Claire's new boyfriend, and Jahzir Bruno as his son Jack.

Kate is now 13, and this Christmas for her is the worst. Her mom seems to be getting serious with Bob, and Kate's not ready to have her deceased father replaced yet. What's worse, instead of snow this year, both families have taken a joint holiday vacation to the sunny beaches of Mexico. Frustrated, Kate changes her Christmas wish to something selfish, and makes a secret plan to slip away to the airport and take the first plane back home by herself.

What Kate doesn't know is that she's been discovered to be a "True Believer" by a renegade elf named Belsnickel (Julian Dennison), who has been cursed to become a human. Belsnickel wants to return to Santa's village, steal the Star of Bethlehem, and take over Christmas for himself. But to get past the Aurora Borealis shield around the workshop, he needs a plan. Pretending to be a cab driver, he picks up Kate to take her to the airport -- with both unaware that Bob's son, Jack, has stowed himself in the back. When Belsnickel drives them through a wormhole, depositing them at the North Pole, all he has to do is hide and wait for Santa to discover them, then sneak aboard the sleigh to be taken past the barrier.

From this point forward, everything becomes chaos in Santa's Village. The star gets destroyed, the elves turn to imps -- even the theater stops playing ELF in favor of BAD SANTA. It's up to Santa and Kate to travel to Turkey, where the legend of Santa begins, to restore the power of the star, while Mrs. Claus and Jack must brave the dangers of the frozen north and the hungry Yule Cat to get the ingredients to a cure for the elves.

THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2 isn't unenjoyable -- it's just lacking the urgency and tension that made the first one more of an adventure. The obstacles in this sequel simply don't seem as insurmountable or as dire; there's never a doubt that things will be fixed, and indeed the solutions are gained a bit too quickly. Additionally, the magical musical number this time doesn't quite measure up to the jailhouse performance Russell pulled off the first time around. Nevertheless, the costuming and production values are decent, and I fully believe the family can watch this and be adequately entertained.

3.5 / 5.0