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Christmas is a great time of the year. The whole family comes together, children are excited, and joy fills the air. What better way to spend the festive season than seeing a family Christmas movie with your loved ones? Now, Aardman Animations has given us a very joyous movie that should be a Christmas classic for years to come.
Over the years, because of the world’s expanding population, Santa Claus’ Christmas Night deliveries has become a high-tech military operation, involving thousands of elves and a giant aircraft. Santa Claus’ son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), runs logistics and intelligence in the North Pole and is set to become the next Santa Claus. His younger brother, Arthur (James McAvoy), is a very passionate young man who loves the spirit of Christmas, but is a bit of a klutz. Arthur is kept in the mail room to handle all of Santa’s letters.
The Christmas delivery seems to be a big success, so much so that Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) postpones his retirement, much to Steve’s annoyance. But the worst thing imaginable has happened, a child has been missed. Steve refuses to delivers one bike because the margin of error was too small, so Arthur and his grandfather (Bill Nighy), who wants to show the old techniques still work, and the dedicated elf Bryony (Ashley Jensen) set out to ensure that one little girl is not the child Santa forgot. But their ambitions result in an adventure around the world as this band of misfits save Christmas for one child.
Like Pixar, Aardman believes that story and character have to come first and they make movies for children and adults alike. The movie is funny throughout, with plenty of the verbal jokes that children and adults will enjoy as well as some really well done physical humor and some slapstick. But this is a movie that understands children and what they want. The premise is simple, but the writing is strong and clever throughout the whole movie and there are little touches that give Arthur Christmas that Aardman feel, from the pictures of the previous Santas to Steve’s Christmas Tree goatee. Christmas is an exciting time for children and Arthur Christmas is just such a good-natured, fun movie that delivers on that spirit.
Some elements of Arthur Christmas are similar to Elf, mainly that Arthur is a big kid like Buddy who believes in the magic of Christmas. He is also a guy who does not quite fit in the North Pole and given a job that keeps him out of trouble. The score by Harry Gregson-Williams is very much like the score in Elf, particularly the choir, which sounds identical.
This is a cliché, but Arthur Christmas follows the old Hollywood maxim of “you make them laugh, you make them cry.” It was filled with colorful, likable characters throughout that you will end up caring for despite their faults and expertly played by a top notch voice cast. I left the cinema with a massive smile on my face.
Directed by Sarah Smith
Written by Peter Baynham, Sarah Smith
Starring (voices): James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Ashley Jensen, Jim Broadbent