Aardman Animations/Sony
Keith Staskiewicz
November 22, 2012 AT 05:00 AM EST

Arthur Christmas

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG
runtime
97 minutes
Wide Release Date
11/23/11
performer
Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, James McAvoy
director
Sarah Smith
distributor
Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment

We gave it a B+

Before Santa delivers them to all the good little boys and girls, Christmas presents are made by tireless workers in a magical place located far, far away. No, not China. Arthur Christmas, a festive and cozy yuletide animation from the merrymakers at Aardman studios, is all about the logistics of the North Pole. In its world, Christmas is an enormous, well-oiled machine. The wooden sleighs of yesteryear have been replaced by a sleek, city-size airship; gifts are stealthily delivered by highly trained teams of elves (red-and-green berets, as it were); and stockings are hung by the chimney with pinpoint precision. By now, the halls practically deck themselves. Santa is but a figurehead, while Steve, his son and slightly resentful heir apparent, is the real brains behind the operation. The heart, however, belongs to Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy), the giddy, clumsy, well-meaning black sheep of the family, who radiates Christmas cheer like a blindingly lit Douglas fir but lacks the respect of his father and brother, who find him a nuisance. When an error in Steve’s operation leaves a young girl giftless, Arthur takes it upon himself to make the last-minute delivery. The resulting adventure, like most of Aardman’s work (Chicken Run, Flushed Away), is more clever than outright funny, but it’s also genuinely sweet, and the complicated relations among Santa’s clan are surprisingly believable. (His gifts for his own children? Checks.) In the end, the ? film really nails the trickiest knot of tangled multicolored lights: family. B+

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