Ben Abraham’s review published on Letterboxd:
Nothing here will exasperate viewers but it’s disappointing to see Columbus make a cliche abiding Christmas film with a lack of creative delineation. The first one is superficial but fun with a well captured sense of holiday spirit. This one isn’t much worse but definitely feels much lazier in execution and much less significant as a holiday film.
Expectations were high, with this being directed by Chris Columbus but it’s another example of his magic being lost as a director. The film feels very jumbled and unfocused and is only inconsequentially funny due to some fun performances. Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn have wonderful on screen chemistry to match their real life relationship, the addition of Julian Dennison was a lot of fun. A huge issue was the length, the first one feels much more brisk than this (for the better or the worse), this one stretches out for far too long, due to the inclusion of multiple musical set pieces and unnecessary open-ended interactions between characters, the ending isn’t significant enough to make up for the length.
The script feels much more rushed than the first, squeezing out a sequel in 2 years may have been too quick. The plot lacks holiday spirit in the manner that it could easily be used in a film coming out in July. I think it will work for kids just fine, it’s an enjoyable escape from reality for a younger audience who should get a kick out of seeing Santa running around with kids through portals etc. For kids as long as the film starts in the same plays as it ends, contains Christmas songs and involves kids interacting with Santa, that’s all that’s needed for a film like this.
‘The Christmas Chronicles 2’ is rightfully unashamed of it’s frivolousness and it’s perfunctory direction of storytelling is excusable but Columbus’s effort here proves peripheral and the film slumps into a convoluted mess.