Already Seen the Muppets? Catch This Next!
ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011/IN THEATERS) Looking for a fun afternoon or evening outing suitable for the whole family this break season? Look no further than “Arthur Christmas,” a clever animated feature with a decidedly British accent. The film is a classic in the making. It offers tongue-in-cheek dialog and funny mash-ups of familiar films to create a movie that works for adults and children alike. Featured are several familiar voices: James McAvoy as Arthur, the youngest son of Santa; Hugh Laurie as Steve, his older brother who runs “Christmas Operations” as a high-tech enterprise these days; Jim Broadbent as the current Santa, just a place-holder really; and Bill Nighy as “Grand Santa” who remembers how it used to be. The story opens with a little girl posting her note to Santa and wondering if he really exists. Cut to the North Pole where we find Arthur replying carefully to every “Dear Santa” letter, while thousands of Elves are loading up “S-1”—the newest Star Ship Enterprise style sleigh commandeered by Steve and run in a “Mission Impossible” style on Christmas Eve. A computer voice (Laura Linney’s in fact) keeps all the various pieces “on mission” but during this particular night, one present is left out—meaning one child has been missed. And so Grand Santa and Arthur, along with their helpful wrapping Elf Bryony, take it upon themselves to deliver that last package. Plenty of fun ensues, along with some sweet “real meaning of Christmas” corny dialog, but IMHO, it all works. The film has very high production values and will remind you of “The Incredibles,” though it is a Sony Production and has no relation to Pixar. I saw it in 2D, which was just fine, but it’s easy to see that it would be spectacular in 3D. Nothing too heavy, mind you, and just enough smaltz to bring the “Christmas spirit” to every viewer. Do keep it in mind when you’re ready to get the kids out of the house!
P.S. Keep your ears sharp for some other famous voices including Eva Longoria, Andy Serkis, Dominic West, Jane Horrocks, Rhys Darby (as the “Lead Elf”), Joan Cusack, and Michael Palin (as elderly Ernie Clicker), not to mention Imelda Staunton as “Mrs. Santa.”