November 27, 2011

Movie Review: Arthur Christmas

I have to be honest, when I first saw the teaser for this movie over the summer, I was not really interested in it at all. It looked a little too silly, a little too much for the kids. There really isn't anything wrong with that, it just did not appeal to me and I had no intention of seeing it (everyone has to draw the line somewhere, right?). Well, the closer the release got the more my ideas started to change a little bit. You see, the final trailer came out and it looked a little better, possible even interesting. Combine that with the positive buzz that was bubbling up around it, and my learning that Aardman Studios (Wallace and Gromit) was involved and I was convinced this could be worth spending time with.

As the movie opens we are flown to Santa's North Pole home, accompanied by the voice over of a letter to Santa. The letter is from a young girl named Gwen. She tells of her steadfast belief in Santa, but it is laced with touches of skepticism ("If you live at the North Pole, how come I can't see your house on Google Earth?"). As the letter is read, we are continuing on our journey to and through Santa's home. We see the Santas through the ages, the mantle passed on as the older gift givers retire. We settle on Arthur (James McAvoy), Santa's youngest son. He is a clumsy, warm hearted, true believer in Santa and what he means to children around the world and he spends his time answering the letters sent to Santa each year.

While Arthur responds to letters, we are given a look at the rest of the operation. This is a large scale, high tech operation that can no longer be handled by a fat man on a sled with some reindeer. Santa now travels the world in a huge stealth ship with a team of thousands of elves getting all the presents into place and bungeeing down to the houses to aid in effective delivery. All of this is coordinated by a massive command center at the North Pole, run by Santa's eldest son, Steven (Hugh Laurie).

With all of that set up out of the way, the story focuses on Gwen, who is mistakenly missed n Santa's rounds. This is a travesty to Arthur who tries to convince Santa to get that present delivered while Steven convinces him that it is an acceptable mistake. Well, Arthur does not agree and overcomes his fears of going outside and with the help of Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) and Byrony the wrapping expert elf, get the reindeer and old school sled together and set out on an adventure to make things right.

I have to say that Arthur Christmas was really quite enjoyable. It is heartwarming, funny, and has some really clever gags. There are nicely placed references and sight gags that all add up to a very enjoyable time. I have to admit to being surprised by how much I liked this movie. It is not perfect, the characters are a little to the thin side, but there is enough warmth, humor, and good cheer to fight through the lackluster elements.

It is fun watching the inner workings of the Santa family. The current Santa is nothing more than a figurehead who just happens to hold the title. The power is mostly held by Steven who runs the command center and has his eyes on the being the next Santa. Meanwhile, Arthur believes in the magic and the tradition of it, while being a rather bumbling fellow. And let's not forget the very funny Grandsanta who wants to show the old ways are still effective.

This is a pleasant holiday movie that is fun for the family. Yes, it surprised me too. Sadly, there were not many people seeing it, at least locally. It does not look like this is going to be embraced, and I blame those bad ads. Hopefully word of mouth will help it, or at least when it hits home video next year. It really is a good movie.


. Related Posts with Thumbnails


Post a Comment