Arthur Christmas – 2012

Director Sarah Smith
Starring (voices) James MacAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen, Marc Wooton, Laura Linney, Eva Longoria
Screenplay Smith and Peter Baynham

Finally, a movie for those too innocent to know that most Christmas movies are horrible average crap.  It’s British, features characters with big noses and features a couple of misfits, who will, without a doubt, save Christmas.

There is no reason for this movie to be.  It does not seek to do anything other than to say that to be like Santa you need to be nice, and make sure that everyone gets their present.  Even some little girl in England.

The gist of the story is that Santa is old and in need of a good retirement.  He has two sons, one who is perfectly suited to take over and…the other one, who answers letters from the kids.  One gift falls out of the S-1 high-tech sleigh, and it is up to the other son to save the day.  Add to that a UFO invasion plot and you have the story in a nutshell.

Everything is tidy in this film, even to the point where the elf throws the discarded wrapping paper tube into the recycle bin.  All old things have their use, and anything new is bad.  Santa’s oldest son, who is tied to the modernities, is a cad.  Arthur, who answers letters by hand, is the true spirit of Christmas.  Whoop-de-doo.

If you are looking for a once in a decade expansion of the meaning of Christmas, this is not that movie.  Elf, A Christmas Story or if you are into the TV shows, the Charlie Brown and Rankin-Bass are burned into the psyche as the good Christmas stuff.  My wife liked Christmas Vacation and It’s A Wonderful Life.  My mother likes Miracle on 42nd Street.  The original, not the remake.  These are films and specials that many people would play year after year, for their kids and grand kids   This does not approach any of those films.  I don’t profess to know the magic formula for making a classic.  I can tell you this ain’t it.  It’s too British, for one thing.  There is nothing here that will harm children.  Nothing here that any kid really will care about, either.  It’s just another movie with “Christmas” in the title that is designed for short attention spans.

Some families will rent this film and like it.  Some may even buy it.  Most will forget it in 10 years.  My six-year-old wandered away in the first 10 minutes.  Emily watched it all the way through, but she didn’t want to talk about it after.  Not a great sign.  She finally relented.

(**1/2 out of *****)

CPE:   Did you like the movie?
Em: Yes.

CPE: Yes?  That’s not much to say.
Em: Well you asked if I liked the movie so I said “Yes.”  It was a yes or no question.

CPE: Okay, so what did you like about the movie?
Em:  Um…(searching her thoughts)…that Arthur was a very caring person.

CPE: That’s not much to say…what else do you want to say about the film?
Em: (A few minutes later)  Dad, I’ve got more…you ready?

CPE: Okay.
Em: Alright, I like that his brother Steve gave him the role of Santa, even though Steve really wanted Santa and had been waiting a long time.

CPE: Don’t you think Steve really did not want to be Santa?
Em: I think he realized it would have been selfish so he gave it to him.

CPE:  Do you think you will remember this movie in 10 years?
Em: Hmm…if I watch it again, or if they still have it on DVD.

CPE: Anything else you want to say about Arthur Christmas?
Em: You probably should put it on your good list.

CPE: But I did not think that much of it.
Em: Whenever a movie has British accents in it, you don’t like it.

Em: Dad, do you know who my favorite Avenger is?

(***** out of *****)

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