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Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn Team Up to Save the Holidays

Santa’s again, and Goldie’s acquired him, because the MGM advertising and marketing division of yore may need put it, and whereas Netflix’s “The Christmas Chronicles 2” hits just about each observe you’d anticipate, it throws in sufficient surprises, and deep dives into Yuletide lore, to maintain it from being mere tinsel.

In a 12 months when most of us gained’t be capable of spend the vacations with our households, the movie gives a reunion or two: Hollywood energy spouses Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn co-star in a film for the primary time because the authentic “Overboard,” and Christmas royalty Chris Columbus (author of “Gremlins,” director of “Home Alone”) returns to the director’s chair after producing the primary “Chronicles” in 2018.

This time, Columbus co-writes with Matt Lieberman (who additionally wrote the unique), and the 2 of them have clearly completed their Christmas analysis, crafting a storyline that weaves in all the pieces from Santa’s Turkish origins to the Icelandic legend of the Yule Cat (Jólakötturinn, who goes by “Jola” for brief right here) to the Star of Bethlehem itself.

Also a part of the vacation’s historical past is Belsnickel, one among Santa’s gift-giving antecedents, however in “Christmas Chronicles 2,” Belsnickel (Julian Dennison, “Deadpool 2”) is Santa’s former right-hand elf, so embittered by the large man’s devotion to others that he misbehaves and is ultimately cursed with changing into a human. (If this devoted-apprentice-goes-bad plot thread sounds acquainted, it’s as a result of it additionally pops up in one among Netflix’s different large vacation titles this 12 months, “Jingle Jangle.”)

Belsnickel’s scheme to get again into Santa’s magical village within the North Pole entails Kate (Darby Camp), the primary movie’s heroine, who’s pouting via a Christmas trip in Cancun as a result of she doesn’t need her widowed mother Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) to remarry. Kate — together with Jack (Jahzir Bruno, “The Witches”), her potential new step-brother — get whisked to the North Pole by Belsnickel, who abandons them of their beachwear, in order that he can tag alongside when Santa reveals as much as rescue them.

After Belsnickel’s nefariously naughty plans come to fruition, it’s as much as Santa (Russell) and Mrs. Claus (Hawn) to save lots of the vacation with their younger buddies. The plot entails a ticking clock — it’s Chris Columbus, in any case — and time journey, to not point out pleasant forest elves, magic cookies, and an airport musical quantity — once more, Chris Columbus — that includes Russell, Darlene Love, and a full gospel choir.

Story-wise, you just about know what you’re in for right here, however Columbus and Lieberman make an actual effort to flesh out the notion of Santa Claus for the 21st century, updating the outdated legends similar to Washington Irving, Clement Clarke Moore, and scores of different writers and illustrators have over the course of the previous few centuries. The VFX group makes Santa’s Village (which the children counsel must be known as “Mrs. Claus’ Village,” since she did design the factor) really feel each tangible and magical, and Russell and Hawn convincingly seize these icons of generosity, centuries outdated however nonetheless able to getting enthusiastic about sweet canes. And nobody can order “Cornish pixie dandruff” as a sizzling chocolate add-in fairly like Goldie Hawn can.

Their ease and wit within the roles make “Christmas Chronicles 2” go down simpler than it may need in any other case, because the juvenile performers appear to have been directed at a a lot increased pitch. And now that he’s made two main sequels that contain him enjoying a personality having a feature-length tantrum, I hope administrators discover different kinds of roles for the gifted Dennison, who made his breakthrough in Taika Waititi’s “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.”

Given that the historical past of vacation films is dotted with some extremely wrong-headed makes an attempt at portraying Santa Claus — for each “Miracle on 34th Street,” there’s at all times a “Santa Claus: The Movie” — this sequel not solely offers a…

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