ARTHUR CHRISTMAS – The Review
Well, Harold and Kumar have already taken their 3D shot at Christmas, so it’s time for another 3D flick that hopes to become a holiday viewing tradition. Unlike those two ‘buds’, this one is made for all ages. And it’s animated, but ARTHUR CHRISTMAS is a co-production between Sony Animation and those fine folks from across the pond, Aardman Studios ( the Wallace and Grommit folks ), so it’s got some of that dry British humor which will appeal to the grown-ups . This film follows in the tradition of many holiday flick in that it wants to give you the real low-down on how Saint Nick makes his rounds ( this what THE SANTA CLAUSE , SANTA CLAUS THE MOVIE, and FRED CLAUS all purported to reveal ).
The film opens up on the Claus family’s busiest night of the year. We get to see an entire village serviced by Santa and countless elves. They zip in on a spaceship ( the massive S-1 ) and, like a cross between super-secret agents and wily ninjas they enter homes, disable alarms, and distribute the presents, all without getting detected ( they collect the snacks left for Santa and his reindeer and turn them into bio-fuel for the S-1 ). The slighty befuddled Santa ( Jim Broadbent ) wouldn’t get the job done without the high-tech mission control back at the North Pole run with precision by the next in line to be Santa, oldest son Steve ( Hugh Laurie ). Oh, and in his own tiny office ( decorated with all manner of Santa stuff ) is his younger brother Arthur ( James McAvoy ), who’s in charge of answering all the letters to Santa. The big man in the big spaceship finally returns ro home base : mission accomplished. Everyone is pleased except Arthur! It turns out that a present didn’t make it on to the ship. Santa and Steve shrug it off-they’ll just ship the gift to the little girl and she’ll get it in a few days. Arthur will not stand for this. There’s a few hours before dawn breaks on the girl’s Cornwall village, so Arthur, with the aid of the retired Grandsanta ( Bill Nighy ) and his old sled Evie ( and reindeer ) embarks on a race against the clock to insure that every child has a very merry Christmas.
The film begins with a bang with the history of the Santa line ( the current one is seventeen ) , then quickly cuts to the elves leaving the S-1 I ( in invisible stealth mode ) and zipping down ropes onto the homes. This sequence is like Bond or Mission: Impossible times a hundred! McAvoy is wonderfully innocent and ernest as the son that just wants to make sure that all the kids are happy. In this film Laurie sounds closer to one of his upper-class twits in ” Black Adder” than Dr. Gregory House. Steve is quite full of himself and has his own Santa suit already whipped up ( a great gag ). Broadbent is terrific as the slightly out of it Santa. It’s a good thing Mrs. Claus ( Imelda Staunton ) is there to keep him focused. The best present here is Nighy as the crotchety, surly Grandsanta he really dislikes all these new fangled gizmos. Some of his lines are true politically incorrect gems. The character designs are very pleasant and creative ( all those elves! ) and the 3D works well with the bright designs and backgrounds. The film tends to sag a bit when Arhtur’s on his journey, but everything leads up to a rousing and sentimental finale. A warning : the film is preceeded by a music video of Justin Biebers version of a classic holiday tune. Talk about your lump of coal! Ah, back to the main event-ARTHUR CHRISTMAS is a tasty holiday treat that has a smart funny script that will keep parents amused while the tykes are enthralled.