Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe to Empire!
Save up to 63%
Halo 5 Guardians
The Master Chief returns
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

James McAvoy
Jim Broadbent
Hugh Laurie
Bill Nighy.
Sarah Smith.
Peter Baynham
Sarah Smith.
Running Time
100 minutes

4 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
Intern, The
3 Star Empire Rating
Nightmare, The
3 Star Empire Rating

5 Star Empire Rating
Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Arthur Christmas
This Christmas, Aardman will sleigh you

submit to reddit

The reigning Santa Claus (Broadbent) is reaching the end of his service, with his super-efficient but joyless son Steven (Laurie) ready to take over. But the future of the position of head of Christmas looks less certain when a child is left without a present and the only person prepared to put things right is his hapless brother, Arthur (McAvoy).

Arthur Christmas
It's often said that much of the charm of Aardman’s films comes from the fact that they are so clearly hand-made. While it’s true that there is something immensely appealing, and indefinably British, about seeing Plasticine squished into life, so obviously tangible, it’s not the chief source of Aardman’s appeal. Arthur Christmas doesn’t bear a single thumbprint but it is Aardman to its heart. The real attraction of Aardman is in a strain of humour that is uniquely, intelligently silly.

Arthur’s story has it that being Santa Claus is a career, like being the CEO of a very large but cuddly company. The average shift lasts around 70 years before being passed on to the next son (this also obliquely suggests that Santa Clauses die — an idea too miserable to contemplate, so let’s not dwell). Like any other ageing industry, it has evolved and become computerised — as is shown in a gift-delivery sequence staged like Mission: Impossible with elves, packed so full of witty background jokes that you’ll have to watch it tens of times before you catch them all. Christmas is now such a big business and run with such precision that the only person who appreciates the true dizzy joy is Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy), Santa ‘Malcolm’ Claus’ youngest son, a flail of uncoordinated limbs held together with enthusiasm and an ugly jumper. When a child is accidentally left ungifted, Arthur, his retired ‘grandsanta’, a determined wrapping elf and the world’s most ancient reindeer venture out to ensure that Christmas comes to absolutely everyone.

The quest is the good ol’ ‘what can go wrong, will go wrong’ roadtrip. There’s a lion attack, several escaped reindeer and some very unkind bits about Toronto, all written with warm sarcasm by Peter Baynham and writer/director Sarah Smith. They don’t write for kids — they just write what’s funny, which is the Aardman way. It doesn’t all work: there’s a UFO plotline that doesn’t really hold together and, like Santa, the film’s a little flabby around the middle, where it briefly quite literally starts going round in circles and loses a bit of the fun. But it finds an ending that stuffs in all the Christmas jollity and huggy business that is absolutely core to a Christmas movie but without the overdone syrupy nonsense that makes you want to go to the nearest shopping centre and kick over a nativity scene. The feeling with which it leaves you is unfettered cheer. It’s just so happy. This could very well come to be regarded as a Christmas classic.

A great, big joy. Even if you’re a bit bah humbug, just delight in the supremely clever Aardman comedy.

Reviewed by Olly Richards

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Arthur Christmas
Empire Star Rating

Very funny and heartwarming Christmas movie

The script is great - funnier than 'Pirates!' in my opinion. It is modern, but without taking any of the joy out of it. It has been years since we've had such a through-and-through Christmas movie... thanks Aardman! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by philshepp at 20:42, 12 December 2012 | Report This Post

Arthur Christmas

A film that highlights the moving forward of the Christmas season but also notes how the old school is sometimes the best way to go. A great array of voice work and an endlessly colourful animated palette (even if I prefer Aardman on Claymation form). A real festive treat that will get families together at Christmas and warm everyone's spirit. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JJB888 at 00:34, 23 November 2012 | Report This Post

Not funny.

Seriously, I went with high expectations two days before Christmas, and what a let down. This is funny? Seriously? Sure it has a funny and clever 'military' operation present drop at the start, but the rest of it is just awful. Do kids really want the magic ripped out of Christmas like this? Who wants to see lame and clueless, or geriatric Santa's, or power hungry Santa's for that matter? It sags terribly after the opening and we found it quite boring to be honest. I love all the Pixar stuff, b... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The kUrGaN at 23:15, 23 December 2011 | Report This Post

A classic.

I was unsure about this but I was extremely surprised at how good this was. Aardman animation has brought us classics such as the wallace and gromit show and movie and it has blessed us with not only that but Flushed Away, to top it off we have Arthur Christmas the best of the lot, which shows what really goes on behind closed doors at the north pole, the story is fairly magnificent as is the voice acting and James Mcavoys lends his cheery voice for the lovable Arthur the star of the story. I ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lewisb548 at 19:53, 23 December 2011 | Report This Post

The reviewer is right, it's brilliantly funny

It's true it does take an while going once the frantic 20 minute intro calms down to tell the story. I do feel there's still a great British Aardman sense of humour. Wait until the flying safari sequence, hilarious. The seemingly random Toronto fly through was a very pleasant surprise as us two Brits were in Toronto watching it , everyone laughed out loud wether it took the piss or not. It was nice to get a non too common city reference as in most films it would choose maybe Paris, New York o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by U Boll at 22:15, 11 December 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Release Date...

Took my little boy to watch this at the weekend, we both loved it. Bill Nighy's mad old Santa was hilarious. ... More

Posted by pauljthomas at 08:48, 21 November 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Release Date...

I'll be intereasted if any1 can find the figures for 2d vs 3d at the end of next week as most World Of Cine's aren't showing the 2d version in the afternoon on weekdays don't know about other chains but it'd be good to see which takes more as this could be another nail in 3d's coffin? ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 16:51, 11 November 2011 | Report This Post

Release Date...

Wouldn't it have been better releasing this, at, errm, christmas? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 11:58, 11 November 2011 | Report This Post

Denis Villeneuve Talks Sicario
On his cartel thriller and the upcoming Blade Runner sequel

Tomorrowland: The Viewing Guide
Brad Bird talks through his sci-fi adventure, scene by scene

Empire Meets Ridley Scott
The great director on The Martian, Blade Runner 2 and the Prometheus sequels

My Movie Life: Justin Kurzel
The Macbeth director on how Rocky changed his life and the worst ever date movie

Life On Mars: Trips To The Red Planet
A dozen of cinema's Martian misadventures

All Hail Macbeth! The Scottish Play On Film
By the pricking of our thumbs, ten adaptations this way come(s)

10 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Toys You’ll Want To Own
Falcon quad copter? BB-8 Sphero? We’re already asking for pay raises…

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)