Arthur Christmas (2011)

arthur christmas poster 2011 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Fun for kids

Story misses out on a lot of moments for heart in exchange for fun

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Arthur Christmas

Studio:  Aardman Animations

Genre(s):  Animated/Family/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  November 11, 2011 (UK)/November 23, 2011 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

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Santa Clauses are coming to town!

The mantle of Santa Claus has been passed down for generations.  Now the present Malcolm Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) is preparing for his last Christmas run and looking to retire.  Santa’s replacement appears to be his son Steve (Hugh Laurie) who has revolutionized his delivery method and upped his productivity.  Santa’s other son Arthur (James McAvoy) is a loveable goof who sees the joy in Christmas but manages to mess up at every turn.  When an accident causes a girl named Gwen Hines (Ramona Marquez) to be left off the standard Christmas delivery schedule, Arthur and his grandfather (Bill Nighy) decide that Gwen will get her gift.  Joined by a present wrapping elf named Bryony (Ashley Jensen) the three set off to deliver the present before Christmas morning.

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There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime (or Santa Clauses)!

Directed by Sarah Smith, Arthur Christmas received positive reviews but average box office returns when it was released during the 2011 holiday season.  The movie was released in 3D and featured “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” by Justin Bieber.  It was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film.

Arthur Christmas will probably entertain children.  The movie is like Elf, Fred Claus, and The Santa Clause in that it takes a modern take on the North Pole operations and Santa Claus.  The movie is a “safe” movie in that there is no doubt in it that Santa isn’t real so no fears by parents of plots where that is a point in the story.  Instead, the movie is one of those fun frolicking adventures.

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Gee, I wonder what this gift is?

The movie is loaded with great voices.  With the primary stars of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton (voicing Margaret Claus), the movie has a lot of talent to bring the characters to life.  In addition to those voices however, there are many smaller roles voiced by Laura Linney, Eva Longoria, Robbie Coltrane, Joan Cusack, Rhys Darby, Jane Horrocks, Andy Serkis, and Dominic West.

Despite all this talent and a fun story, I think that the movie tries too hard for the fun and not enough at the sentimentality of Christmas.  Most of the movie is spent bickering between the Clauses, and the real matter of Santa’s desire to let go, grandpa Santa’s wish to return to his youth, Steve’s desire to prove himself, and Arthur’s goal to “just be” get sidelined by the hijinks.  There are a ton of periods for potentially touching moments that go unused until the end…The movie doesn’t have to be sappy, but it needed more feeling.

Arthur Christmas is one of those movies that goes for the typical holiday spirit holiday.  It is fun and frantic, but I think for the most part the movie doesn’t have much heart until the last scene.  It is pretty obvious what is going to happen throughout the movie so the ending comes as no shock.  With a typical story, kids will like it; adults might struggle.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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