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).
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
|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
Posted by philshepp at 20:42, 12 December 2012 | Report This Post
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
Posted by JJB888 at 00:34, 23 November 2012 | Report This Post
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
Posted by The kUrGaN at 23:15, 23 December 2011 | Report This Post
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
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
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
Wouldn't it have been better releasing this, at, errm, christmas? ... More
Posted by skeletonjack at 11:58, 11 November 2011 | Report This Post