Summary: On Christmas night at the North Pole, Santa’s youngest son looks to use his father’s high-tech operation for an urgent mission.
|James McAvoy (voice) as Arthur|
Despite what the title may suggest, this film has nothing whatever to do with the Arthur
children’s series by Marc Brown on PBS and Cartoon Network. This film focuses on efforts made by “Santa” (Jim Broadbent, voice), Santa’s son “Steve” (Hugh Laurie, voice), and Steve’s brother “Arthur” (James McAvoy) who go all out to ensure that no child is left behind for Christmas. Behind the scenes is retired “Grand Santa” (Bill Nighy) who, at 136 years old, is still ready for a sleigh ride.
Evidently, because we walk around with phones stuck in our ears these days, some think it’s time for Christmas movies to change from what they used to be, which is perhaps why they have Santa and team getting toys to kids in a spaceship rather than a sleigh and using PDAs, smartphones, and advanced cloaking devices to stay off the (literal) radar.
If Mission Impossible-style Christmas movies are the future of holiday entertainment, far be it from old me to stand in their way, although it has yet to be seen how well the masses will identify with the film’s extravagant efforts to revamp Christmas.
The CGI performances are as good as anything a real-life actor could do, and the presentation is drop-dead adorable, but it won’t engage younger kids as well as it should, which is a downright disappointment since the film misses much of its audience. Compare this film to Santa and the Three Bears (1970) and you’ll see an exact contrast. Kids will watch the latter all the way through. Arthur Christmas doesn’t bring the innocence of Christmas and it lacks most of the appeal.
Yes, it will tug at your heartstrings, but it had better in order to make up for lost ground. Two and a half stars for the good – but nowhere near great – Arthur Christmas.
Grade: C+ (2 ½ stars)
Rated: PG (for some mild rude humor)
Director: Sarah Smith
Starring: “Arthur” (voice, James McAvoy), “Steve” (voice, Hugh Laurie), “Grandsanta” (voice, Bill Nighy), “Santa” (voice, Jim Broadbent), “Mrs. Santa” (voice, Imelda Staunton)
Genre: Animation / Comedy / Drama