Arthur Christmas

Animated holiday tale rides on its lively British voices

Nov 23, 2011 at 9:59 am

'Tis the season for early holiday arrivals. Black Friday barely hangs onto the distinction of being the official start of the shopping season, what with all the stores offering online specials in advance and trumpeting the opening of their doors long before midnight following Thanksgiving. And it seems that the multiplexes have taken notice, unleashing a cavalcade of releases this year the day before to (hopefully) entice the young and old alike.

Arthur Christmas, the story of an aging Santa (Jim Broadbent), the latest Claus in the line who has watched his eldest son Steve (Hugh Laurie) transform the fun and magic of delivering gifts all over the globe on Christmas Eve into a highly efficient enterprise with no tender loving care. But there’s a bit of hope lurking behind a desk in some remote corner of the North Pole — Santa’s youngest son Arthur (James McAvoy) who reads and answers letters from kids. You see, Arthur, like those very young kids, still believes that Christmas is about more than business, and when it is discovered that one child hasn’t received her gift, it is up to Arthur and his crazy Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) to hitch up the old sleigh for a wild dash just before sunrise to make sure that Christmas continues to live up to its mythic status.

The old cynic in me, the one never raised to believe in the commercial or the elfin hokum of the season, fought valiantly, but thanks to the fantastically lively British voices and the rollicking international incident caused by a team of flying reindeer, I found myself glad that Arthur Christmas cared enough to make this early delivery. Grade: B

Opens Nov. 23. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.