A must-see this holiday season, “Arthur Christmas,” delivers a high dosage of organic Christmas spirit and humor. A film for all ages addresses the ageless question of what really goes on in the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
In the imagination of screenwriter Peter Baynham (“Bruno”) and director Sarah Smith, Santa has upgraded from the eight infamous reindeers to a massive ship and a crew of hundreds of elves. Even with all of this, Santa is not alone: he has the help of the next-in-line Santa, his son, Steve (Hugh Laurie, TV’s “House”) who oversees the whole operation in true military style.
In the middle of the most chaotic and stressful night of the year for the North Pole is Santa’s younger son, Arthur. Voiced by James McAvoy (“X-Men: First Class”), Arthur is a clumsy Christmas fanatic who has been pushed aside by everyone and given the task of reading and addressing every letter sent to Santa. “Arthur Christmas” has many twists to the classic story of Santa, the most effective and important twist is that it places the audience in a modern North Pole where everyone, even Santa, has forgotten the true meaning and real purpose of Santa. Everyone has tampered with their real purpose in the mission of Christmas, except for Arthur, who remains innocent and only wants to give every child the perfect gift. Steve is determined to become the next Santa Claus and worries more about the gadgets and the perfect execution of delivering the gifts rather than why they deliver the gifts in the first place. Santa is lazy and old but refuses to let his son take over. While Grand-Santa (Bill Nighy, “Rango”) just wants to prove that he can still do the job without all the technology that has replaced tradition.
No one seems to care for the children, and when a child is accidentally missed it is Arthur who steps up and wants to get the job done. Accompanied by Grand-Santa and an energetic gift wrapping elf, (Ashley Jensen, “How To Train Your Dragon”), Arthur takes the old, original sleigh and all eight reindeer to deliver one last gift. “Arthur Christmas” takes us on a journey as they circle the world and encounter furious lions before they reach their destination.
The film is successful in its use of 3D and just proves the argument that 3D is meant for animation. The movie has great humor for the whole family. Every little detail was well thought, from the understanding character of Mrs. Claus (Imelda Staunton, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”) to the way an elf broke the rules and gave a gift to a “naughty” child. For the adults, “Arthur Christmas” quietly addresses a topic of family interaction, as the Claus family is on the verge on collapsing because of bad communication and competition with each other. For the younger audience, it has a lesson of self-confidence and that the hero sometimes is the one that is least looking for titles and recognition.
“Arthur Christmas” is the perfect holiday film to bring out everyone’s inner child and Christmas spirit.