Arthur Christmas Movie Review
Directed by Sarah Smith and Barry Cook
Written by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith
Release Date: 23 November 2011
Running Time: 97 minutes
Editor’s Rating: 4 out of 4 tactical elf gift delivery operations
A little more than four years ago, animation underdog Sony Pictures Entertainment released a movie from the always entertaining Aardman studios about the milquetoast son of Santa Claus named Arthur Christmas. It wasn’t really a box office smash, and it wound up shoved under the rug where all unlauded holiday sequels end up. I imagine it became friends with the Grumpy Cat Christmas movie, shared a mug of hot cocoa or something, probably picked on the Star Wars special behind its back.
Thankfully, it seems like this film is seeing a resurgence in popularity thanks to YouTubers like the Nostalgia Critic singing this film’s praises. Honestly, without the Critic’s glowing review and my wife’s own curiosity, I probably still wouldn’t have seen it. But let me tell you right here: Arthur Christmas is the best Christmas movie of the last five years, hands down, and it’s a crying shame that it didn’t get the recognition it deserved.
Quick plot rundown: “Santa Claus” is a construction of one very hard working family and their legion of elf workers, making sure billions of gifts for billions of children get to where they need to be all in one night. Arthur Christmas is the youngest son of the current Santa, a meek guy who works in the mailroom answering letters that eager little kids send to Santa in hopes of getting what they want. Arthur’s older brother, Steve, is a take-charge businessman who has streamlined the gift-giving process down to a militaristic science, lulling the current Santa into a phoning-it-in, lackadaisical attitude towards Christmas. When a single gift goes undelivered, it’s up to Arthur and a few unlikely allies to ensure that the package is delivered and that no child goes without a Christmas.
From the rundown, this sounds like a fairly straightforward Christmas film, right? Well, since I’ve been talking this thing up for about 300 words now, you should know better. This film does Christmas comedy right. It has fun with a family dynamic in pretty unexpected ways. The film’s central conflict is the internal struggles of the Christmas family itself, as differing points of view try to arrive at the same outcome. Some points of view just happen to be a little different: carefree old Santa just wants to get it over with, Steve will do it with accuracy and efficiency, Arthur wants to make sure everyone’s happy, and Grandpa just wants to prove to everyone that he’s still got it, even if it kills him and anyone he’s conned to help him out.
Throughout it all, the movie just goes absolutely non-stop with its jokes. Let me be absolutely clear: you will miss out on at least one joke in this film. From Grandpa’s sheer insanity and hokeyness to the quaint CEO-nature of Mrs. Claus, you’re never going to run out of things to giggle at. The humor is also not just juvenile as well, there’s something for everyone here to love. It’s been awhile since I laughed out loud at a Christmas movie, and this one made me do it several times.
While it’s genuinely funny, the movie’s also got a heart to it. Where a lesser comedy would just keep making dysfunctional family jokes, the familial bond of the Christmases always stays strong and never completely broken. There’s always room for redemption here, and it brings the film from holiday yukfest to a truly warm and affirming film, something that embodies that warm fuzzy feeling we all get when we think about Christmas.
So get together with your loved ones next week, curl up with a mug of hot cocoa among the piles of shredded wrapping paper, and give Arthur Christmas a watch. You will not regret it.
Happy Holidays, everyone.
**I own this movie. I was not compensated for this review.**
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