“Operation Santa Claus is coming to town.”  That quote rings so true to me as I walk around the mall, any department store, or just drive down a street.  Sure, we’re almost at Thanksgiving and it’s to be expected, but I was saying that before Halloween.  Christmas has become so commercialized that it presents itself earlier and earlier to us every year.  And since Christmas has become so high-tech with everyone streamlining the present buying process by jumping online to sites like Amazon that Santa Claus would adapt with the times and would go high-tech.

Anyone with children will probably get the question from their child at some point, “how does Santa deliver all of those presents to all the children in the world?”  It’s a valid question.  In Arthur Christmas, Santa (voiced by Jim Broadbent) has retired the reindeer and his sleigh in favor of a high-tech spaceship with a team of elite elves to move from city to city and deliver the gifts.  It’s all computerized and is run by his older son Steve (voiced by Hugh Laurie) who is convinced that efficiency and percentages are the way to go.

James McAvoy provides the voice for Arthur, Santa’s younger son.  He’s afraid of heights, polite, timid, and just a normal guy.  He takes pride working in the letter department receiving and answering the letters written to his father.  But, he’s a bit of a klutz and even though he means well, things do have a tendency of going a little haywire when he’s around.

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa and Steve are running their operation delivering gifts.  When it’s all over and completed, Arthur discovers that there’s a present still on board intended for a little girl, Gwen (voiced by Ramona Marquez) whom he had written back to that was starting to question the existence of Santa Claus.  When he approaches Santa and Steve, Steve makes a strong argument that from a percentage standpoint they’re nearly perfect and both he and Santa decline to do anything about it.

Determined to deliver the gift to Gwen, Arthur along with his Grandsanta (voiced by Bill Nighy) and a little wrapping department elf named Bryony (voiced by Ashley Jensen) set out on an adventure in the old sleigh to get it to her.

This is an extremely creative take on a Christmas film.  I really enjoyed the humor infused into the film and the creativity in which writer/director Sarah Smith approached this film.  Arthur is an unlikely hero and probably the one person in the “family business” that truly understands what the true meaning of Christmas is.  He’s the one that invests his time in writing back to the children who write to Santa to brighten their days and keep the magic and Christmas spirit alive.

I was surprised by some of the jokes that were too mature for many of the kids in the audience.  In fact, 2 of them involving little jabs at women were surprisingly left in.  I don’t think they crossed any lines with them, but they certainly walked it.

The vocal cast in the film is spot on.  They opted to go for a primarily British cast and it works well.  James McAvoy does a great job voicing Arthur.  Bill Nighy is great as Grandsanta.  One of my favorites was Hugh Laurie.  His character has a similar arrogance to the character he plays on the show House.  He’s not a bad guy, he’s just someone who has forgotten the true meaning of Christmas and gotten lost in making it efficient and high-tech.

This is the perfect time of year for a Christmas film.  This is a very good family film that will appeal to adults and children.  If you’re in the mood for a cute, funny, imaginative film this holiday weekend that will please the whole family, Arthur Christmas is the one for you.

FINAL GRADE:  A -

Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres

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