Arthur Christmas (PG)
Arthur Christmas (PG)
Director: Sarah Smith
Cast: (voices of) James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Hugh Laurie
It’s the question that has led many a child to doubt their unshakeable faith in Santa: How does he do it? With a delivery of two billion presents, in just one night, across a distance of approximately 50, 000 miles, single-handed, it seems a task that would make even the great Postman Pat quiver. So how exactly does he do it? According to Arthur Christmas, the newest CG film from the Aardman studio (of Wallace and Gromit fame), the answer is elves. Lots of elves.
Arthur Christmas is the youngest in a long line of Claus’s, eternally festive and content with the menial work of responding to letters for Santa, while his older brother Steve (voiced with delicious pomposity by Hugh Laurie) is focussed on pulling the Santa family business into the 21st century, employing state-of-the-art technology and an elf team of thousands. The film’s opening gambit is magnificent, showcasing Aardman’s flair for providing thick and fast visual gags, alongside warmth and creativity, as they work to deliver every single present before morning. At heart it is a film about the tension of family dysfunction and the new generation’s desire to modernise at the cost of the more established, traditional practises – it’s really The Godfather of Santa films!
While Arthur (McAvoy) is suitably sweet as the idealistic hero intent on delivering the present that got away, it is the contingent of supporting characters who give the film it’s heart. From Bryony the elf, a member of the ‘Gift Wrapping Division’ (“There’s always time for a bow”), through to crotchety old Grandsanta (Nighy), and even down to the bumbling incumbent Santa (Broadbent), each character is fully realised and given room to shine. While the film is saggy in the middle, and does, quiet literally, lose it’s way, it ends with a proper festive grin on it’s face.
There is no denying the love and care the film has taken, not to mention the detail that has gone into the humour, which ensures it is a film kids and adults will enjoy equally – especially on repeated viewing.
Arthur Christmas is a seasonal joy that would make even Scrooge choke on his humbugs.