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When The Christmas Chronicles dropped on Netflix back in 2018, no one could have predicted how big of a hit the original film would become. Quicker than you could say, “jingle bells,” the movie became a surprising success, putting Kurt Russell’s Santa into the hearts and minds of movie fans everywhere. A sequel was bound to happen, and The Christmas Chronicles 2 was greenlit in the hopes that it would continue to spur a potential holiday tradition for the streaming service. Get ready for an early Christmas gift, because the Chris Columbus-directed follow-up delivers.

The Christmas Chronicles 2 picks up a couple years after the first adventure saw Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis) save Christmas around the world. This time, the action starts on a tropical vacation, with their mother Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) starting to move on in her life with a new boyfriend Bob (Tyrese Gibson.) It doesn’t take long for things to go polar though, as Kate and Bob’s son, Jack (Jazhir Bruno), are soon transported to the North Pole. As the pair link up with Santa (Kurt Russell) and Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn), we’re treated to even more of The Christmas Chronicles’ blend of holiday history and myth, with the fate of the season once again being threatened, this time by a shadowy presence (Julian Dennison).

The Christmas Chronicles 2 doesn’t waste time getting back to business, with some slight twists and turns.

Just as The Christmas Chronicles had achieved before it, The Christmas Chronicles 2 takes elements from Christmas movies and legends known worldwide and spins them into a wildly exciting package. While it’s not totally required to understand what’s going on in this new sequel, it’s definitely suggested that audiences refamiliarize themselves with the first entry in The Christmas Chronicles before digging into part two. The big reason for that is the fact that co-writer/director Chris Columbus’ follow-up wastes no time getting back to business, introducing the villainy of Julian Dennison’s Belsnickel right in the opening.

The Christmas Chronicles 2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, staying firmly on the same sort of track that its predecessor laid out. It’s an advantageous decision, as in the world of streaming there’s a good chance this sequel will either be double billed by newcomers, or eagerly devoured by hardcore fans. In either scenario, the backstory doesn’t get in the way of the new story material, which is best considering a huge new character gets to join in on the fun.

Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn are absolutely magical together.

Even in the simple cameo that Goldie Hawn shared with Kurt Russell at the end of The Christmas Chronicles, their legendary chemistry shined like the Christmas Star that powers the North Pole. Now in The Christmas Chronicles 2 Hawn’s return as Mrs. Claus is one of the aspects that truly seizes the opportunity given to a potential franchise. In addition to bringing new dimensions to the classic holiday figurehead, seeing Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell acting together for the first time since 1987’s Overboard shows just how magical their collective talents are.

In fact, the entire cast of The Christmas Chronicles 2, both returning and debuting, make for a very cohesive whole. Franchise newcomers Jazhir Bruno and Tyrese Gibson are fantastic additions to the family drama subplot, and their father/son dynamic takes hold from their introduction. Mixing it up with legacy cast members like Darby Camp and Kimberly Williams-Paisley, this potentially expanded family makes for new challenges, and even sweeter resolutions. Binding it all together is Julian Dennison’s baddie, who makes for an interesting twist on some old Christmas magic, giving the young actor some new ground to tread.

Upholding the spirit of the previous installment, The Christmas Chronicles 2 gives fans and newcomers another memorable holiday treat.

If you’re not on board with the holiday shenanigans that the franchise has already put into the world, The Christmas Chronicles 2 should help you make up for lost time. Chris Columbus and his talented cast of actors have put together something really heartfelt, and it deserves to continue as a Christmas tradition for years to come. The efforts of this sequel hit even harder and more effectively in a 2020 sort of atmosphere, as the professional and focused effort to give audiences a Santa story they can escape into is all the more appreciated in the current film market.

Without an ironic bone in its body, but also lacking in the typical manufactured saccharine that could push it into the other direction, The Christmas Chronicles 2 offers more of the family friendly joy that made its predecessor such a hit. The future of this series is looking merry and bright, and with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell riding in the proverbial sleigh together it's enough to make true believers out of anyone. Netflix may have found its greatest Christmas wish come true, with this signature holiday franchise in fine and fighting form.

8 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed star rating out of five
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