Who needs Santa sacks when you can have Santa on sax (no I’m not even sorry). Mr and Mrs Claus are back in town (or rather, we’re back in theirs), so read on for a full-on spoiler recap of the film (if you want my review of the film, it’s here.)
Ego, lying, viciousness, envy and selfishness. That’s the elf code – break all five and you become a minister in the Conservative Party, I mean cursed to become a human for all eternity.
Long ago, Belsnickel did exactly that, and went from being Claus family favourite – learning toy making from Santa and potion-blending from Mrs Claus – to outcast, brooding at the South Pole with bad elf Speck about how to get his revenge.
His first step is to use Kate Pierce, from the first Christmas Chronicles film, to get him back to the Santa Village. Kate is a True Believer, and he needs just such a person to gain him entry.
With Jack hitching along for the ride (he’s the son of Kate’s mum’s new boyfriend) Belsnickel sends them from their Christmas holiday in Cancun, Mexico, through a wormhole that deposits them at the North Pole.
Santa himself picks the two children up, without realising Belsnickel is hiding on the back of the sleigh.
Belsnickel is driven by a rather unfocused need for revenge. He hates humans, because long ago they hunted elves, an ancient magical species, almost to extinction. And he hates Santa, for not having enough time for him growing up, as Christmas caught on around the world. His aim is to steal the Christmas tree star to stop himself ageing, which will buy him time to work out how to break the curse; though he may even, he claims, start up a rival Christmas Village at the South Pole, in the hope that everyone will forget Santa. (If he’s not joking, that sounds like he’s cutting off his nose to spite his face. It’s just more work!)
Belsnickel’s methods are quite fun, firing elf bane from the village canons, which causes the elves to start acting like drunk zombies on a Christmas works night out, fighting each other and causing havoc with streamers. And yes, he steals the Christmas star from the top of the village tree.
Stopped by Mrs and Mrs Claus as he tries to leave with the star, he realises he hasn’t thought about the unintended consequences of his actions – he’s yule cat Jola in, who has severely injured Dasher, when Belsnickel only wanted Jola to scare the reindeer so they ran away. He divulges his plans for the star, and his hurt at being human, though Mrs Claus points out he can only break the curse by returning home and embracing his family.
Santa and Belsnickel fight over the star, but caught between powers – Santa’s magic and Belsnickel’s scientific invention – it explodes and the lights go out.
Santa needs to travel to Turkey and ask the forest elves to make a new star casing, while he harnesses power from the Star of Bethlehem to light it; and his wife must treat Dasher and find a cure for the mad elves.
Kate accompanies Santa to Turkey, though unbeknown to them, Belsnickel is sitting on the sleigh rail below them. Mrs Claus sends Jack out into the snow to bring back the antidote to elf bane. It’s dark and cold, so she gives him an exploding gingerbread man for protection and a snowman cookie for courage.
Jack makes it to the glacier where the antidote grows, though he’s faced with Jola, the yule cat. He explodes one cookie and eats the other, scaring off the cat and giving him courage; before returning to Mrs C with the plant. Santa and Kate meet Hakan and the other forest elves, who forge a beautiful new light which Santa powers with the Star of Bethlehem.
On their return they’re waylaid by Belsnickel in his own sleigh, pulled by jackaloytes, jackal-coyote hybrids. He captures the new star and sticks a time travel device to Santa’s sleigh, sending them down a time wormhole to 1990 and Boston’s Logan International Airport.
Airports at Christmas, Santa tells Kate, are the places most empty of Christmas spirit – his reindeer can’t fly without it, and on landing settle down on the runway. Even worse, they only have a few minutes to get the Christmas spirit up again, as they’ve opened a tear in the fabric of time.
Kate goes to an airport newsagent for batteries for the time travel gizmo, but after trying to pay with a 2020 note is taken away by Security to wait with other unaccompanied minors.
Santa starts a duet with Santa and customer services manager Grace (actually singer Darlene Love). It’s all marvellous fun, and well done to the 1700 year old Santa, still doing backflips. After the song, the cancelled fights uncancel and everyone is going home for Christmas.
Kate meets a teen boy, who is also a True Believer – and helps her understand Christmas is who you’re with, not where you are. Discovering he’s called Doug Pierce, she realises she’s met her own father, which provides what is really the only tension in the film: will she tell him he’s going to die young? She doesn’t, and it’s just one of those bizarre moments in Christmas films, presumably designed to rouse us from our sugar-induced torpor. Anyway that’s the big reveal, because we all know Christmas WILL be saved even before we start watching.
Santa sets the gizmo into the past so they can grab the star back from Belsnickel, and the two sleighs then fight each other back to the North Pole.
Back at the village, Kate parachutes out of the sleigh over the tree to place the star on the top, though Belsnickel’s drone is after her. Jack, working to fire the elf bane antidote out of the canon and cure the elves, uses his Nerf gun to shoot down the drone, and Kate replaces the light.
Belsnickel and Santa are fighting in their sleighs so Mrs Claus uses an exploding gingerbread man to stop them. Then Jola appears, though is seen off by the rejuvenated Dasher.
Belsnickel declares he’ll be back, but Santa gives him the first toy they made together: a stunning gold bauble with a flying butterfly inside. Mrs Claus tells Belsnickel he just has to believe he’s a wonderful elf and he can be back with them, and Kate tells him running away doesn’t solve problems and to listen to family. Finally believing, Belsnickel shrinks back into an elf and is welcomed back into the fold by Mr and Mrs Claus.
Jack and Kate are flown back to Cancun by Santa, where they have a family reunion. She and Bob agree to move forward one day at a time, and that evening they all sing O Christmas Tree, her dad’s favourite song, on the beach.
Back in the North Pole, the Clauses, Belsnickel and the other elves do the same around the village tree.