“You two have really messed things up,” Santa says, before the trio embark on a series of adventures in order to (yes) save Christmas, including a car chase, getting arrested, and an introduction to Santa’s elves, an animated bunch that look and sound like extras from “Gremlins.” (The resemblance might not be entirely accidental, inasmuch as director Chris Columbus, who wrote that 1984 movie, is the producer here.)
The only really amusing part of “Christmas Chronicles” is Santa’s omniscience, knowing everything about everybody, including what they wanted for Christmas when they were children and what adults secretly yearn for now. There’s also a gratuitous musical number that gives Russell a chance to sing, with Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist Steven Van Zandt among the cameos.
Netflix, obviously, has money to burn, and delivering a big-budget Christmas movie to kick off the holidays fulfills its strategy of trying to offer something for everyone. The problem is that it’s competing with all sorts of traditional and new holiday fare, which means “The Christmas Chronicles” doesn’t feel particularly special, even if Santa’s sleigh looks like it’s making the jump to hyperspace when it really takes off.
“How cool is this?” Kate asks, a question clearly hoping to serve as a surrogate for the audience.
Not that cool, actually, in a movie that represents the sort of holiday gift nobody really needs.
“The Christmas Chronicles” premieres Nov. 22 on Netflix.