FILM: Arthur Christmas Review (***)

Posted: November 26, 2011 in Film, Reviews
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Arthur Christmas had everything going against it this weekend. Not only was it one of seven movies that came out, it also took a backseat to two more family-friendly films: the crowd-pleasing Muppets and the critically-acclaimed Hugo. But despite all the rated-G overload, Arthur Christmas holds up on its own and may be the best film you won’t see this weekend.

The film revolves around the Arthur, the youngest of Santa’s two sons. He’s got a knack for ruining things (Steve Urkel style), but Arthur is also an innocent lover of Christmas. When one gift remains undelivered on December 25th, Arthur teams up with Grandsanta to complete the final mission and gain the respect of the North Pole. The premise may seem like an unoriginal one, but the wrinkle comes with the story’s family dynamics. Spanning three generations of the Claus family, Arthur Christmas is in many ways a family drama, a story of letting go and striving forward, of acceptance from those who matter, of tension between father-and-son, son-and-father.

What makes Arthur Christmas is not its 3D visuals (and is ultimately, unnecessary). Instead, the filmi is driven from the believable voice acting. James McAvoy pulls off his second great work in animation this year (the first being Gnomeo and Juliet), giving Arthur a genuine common-man feel. Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, and Bill Nighy are all perfectly cast in their respective roles, giving each Santa a texture of pride and vulnerability.

I’ll admit that Arthur Christmas is still in third place behind Hugo and The Muppets (in that order), but this may be the film your kids love most. It’s short and funny, cute and innocent…and probably the best Christmas kids film I’ve seen in years. Not to mention it put me in a great Christmas spirit. (I was totally jamming out to “Jingle Bell Rock” on the way home).

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