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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Nov 6: Arthur Christmas


Nov 6: Arthur Christmas

"On Christmas night at the North Pole, Santa's youngest son looks to use his father's high-tech operation for an urgent mission."
Directed by: Sarah Smith & Barry Cook, Rated: PG, 97 minutes

Aardman Animations Studio has been rather hit and miss for me lately, with Pirates! Band of Misfits being one of the year's more disappointing movies, in my opinion. Luckily, their animated flick of last year (that's JUST hitting DVD), Arthur Christmas, restores my faith in the House of Gromit and gave me a new Christmas movie I may watch every year (you've got company The Muppet Christmas Carol!). Arthur Christmas is a terrific holiday film and the perfect jump-start to my scrooge reluctance for another Christmas. It's a unique movie that does a lot of new things with Santa, a character seemingly raped to death with ideas and adaptations, and creates a film that's not only hilarious, but has plenty of heart and a good message.

Space Santa!

In the world of Arthur Christmas, Santa Claus is not the same man every year, but a descendant in a long-line of Santas. The current St. Nick (Jim Broadbent) is getting far too old to continue his jolly "reign" and soon has plans to give over the title to his son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), a hard-working, organized, almost-militant man who leads the elves and the top-notch technology that helps Santa deliver gifts to all of the kids of the world. Arthur (James McAvoy) is Santa's youngest son, and the most genuinely excited about the holiday every year. As opposed to Steve, he looks forward to bringing joy to the children of the world, instead of simply just doing a job that needs to get done. After a gift that was promised to a little girl goes undelivered, Arthur, along with Grandsanta (Bill Nighy), Byrony the elf (Ashley Jensen), a raggedy old reindeer, and an obsolete sled, make it their mission to deliver the bike before sunrise, refusing to let even one child go a Christmas without a gift from Santa.

One little bike could ruin Christmas. I hope it's a Schwinn. 

Arthur Christmas takes the Santa character and lore to new heights. In a day and age like today, you'd assume that Santa would have to adapt with newer and better technologies, and the film shows this in glorious fashion. It's incredibly clever in the present delivery techniques and turns Santa into a toy distributing enterprise. In contrast, the film also screams out for a return to the classic and traditional, and in a sense, reminds us that there's much more to Christmas than fancy gadgets and Apple products. Arthur Christmas is also genuinely funny, and the overly-British, simple humor that Aardman Animations has become known for is definitely present. It never crosses into the territory of crazy innuendo but succeeds solely on clever humor and smart dialogue. The movie feels genuine in every sense of the word and is a pleasant surprise.

Post-House, Hugh Laurie continues to deliver. 

With a terrific voice cast and a refreshing take on a too-familiar story. While it  is far from perfect, it's an exceptional addition to the ever-growing encyclopedia of Christmas films and proves that there's still great stories to be told about Santa Claus. It's funny, it's animated beautifully, and it actually keeps you interested and is not some kid's fluffy film you just tolerate in the background. I would highly recommend checking Arthur Christmas out and if you had not been in the Christmas spirit like me, it's sure to inspire some sort of yule-tide affection hiding inside.

The Good:
terrific visuals that continues to show the talent at Aardman Animations
The Better:
great humor with tons of heart
The Best:
a new spin on the Santa Claus story that doesn't feel forced or unncessary

Overall: 8.2/10

Discussion Question: What's your favorite modern Christmas movie?


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At November 7, 2012 at 2:18 AM , OpenID said...

Good stuff, I could do with a new Christmas movie to get me in the holiday spirit. Sounds like this could be the one. As for my favourite, it's probably Home Alone, I think I watch that at least once every Christmas

At November 7, 2012 at 8:16 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Home Alone is a Christmas staple, for sure!

At November 7, 2012 at 9:01 AM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

Great Pick Nick. I really enjoyed this movie and I wish it had been a bigger success. It will be an evergreen for kids at Christmas Time. If you are interested, here are my comments from last year:

At November 7, 2012 at 9:25 AM , Blogger Nick said...

I'll check out your review. As always, thanks for stopping by!


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