Ninja elves, a Santa spaceship and a crazy old man riding in a wheelie bin that’s being dragged along by a retired reindeer, may not be what you are expecting in a typical Christmas comedy, but this is what makes Arthur Christmas so unique and funny.
Arthur Christmas is a fun and festive film, perfect for children and adults alike. The 3D Sony Pictures animation – written and directed by Sarah Smith – has a voice cast of top British actors including James McAvoy (Gnomeo and Juliet, Narnia), Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent (Bridget Jones) and Bill Nighly.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse. But if that mouse had woken, it would have seen the high tech S1 space ship silently hover over the town, before hundreds of athletic, Santa agent elves bungee onto the roofs of the sleeping neighbourhood. Back flipping and cartwheeling, they silently swing through windows and cat flaps, dodging obstacles with their high-tech gadgets. This is what happens when Mission Impossible meets Santa. It is a fantastic opening scene which cleverly takes the traditionally quiet night before Christmas and turns it into an action-packed, futuristic few minutes.
Bumbling, overweight Santa is now only a figurehead, who is only good at getting in the way of the present-delivery mission. So you can’t help but laugh when poor, naive Santa is treated by his elf helpers like an overweight toddler; he proudly waddles over to a Christmas tree, guided by the elves waving glow sticks, and lays down a single present. It’s his one job of the night but he does it with such pride and effort. Luckily, he has his two sons, Arthur and Steve, to help out too.
You can’t help but love Arthur Claus; not only is he caring and sweet but he can pull off one of those terrible festive jumpers pretty well. He is passionate about Christmas, but despite being Santa’s son, he is shoved in the background and is put in charge of the ‘letters’ department. Poor bumbling and clumsy Arthur seems to draw chaos wherever he goes, tripping over elves and setting things on fire. He feels neglected and ignored compared to the attention his older brother Steve gets.
Steve Claus (Hugh Laurie) is a military organised, coffee-addicted macho man, who has a good heart but his work always seems to come first. Arthur believes that Steve has stripped Christmas of its real magic, by throwing out the old tradition of a sleigh and reindeer (like their Grand Santa used) and replacing it with space ships and mobile phones which Grand Santa (Nighly) describes in one of the funniest quotes of the film,’There you go again, texting on your calculator!’
When a little girl named Gwen, has her present left behind, Arthur is determined to deliver it in time for Christmas. However, to Steve the mission is complete and the missed child is simply a tiny glitch in the system which should be ignored. Arthur ignores his stubborn brother, takes the present and embarks on his adventure to Gwen’s house in Cornwall with Grand Santa, where they let Evie (the old mothball-covered sleigh) fly one more time. But a sleigh can’t fly without the reindeer and it’s up to Grand Santa to call them to the sleigh.
This side-splitting scene is one of the most memorable. Grand Santa slowly approaches the reindeer who are standing majestically, awaiting their master’s call. Uplifting music begins to play as Grand Santa calls some of the reindeer forward, ‘Come on dancer, prancer…’. Everything is beautiful, moving and magical; that is until his old age kicks in ‘…err, what are the rest called? Err.. John, Bambi and you with the white ear’.
They set off on their adventure to England unaware they have a stowaway: Bryony, the Chief Wrapping Elf who can ‘wrap anything with three bits of sticky tape. Three!’, which after a while, becomes her annoying quote of the film. After getting lost, the group crash-land in Africa where they distract hungry lions with kitten-like games. A red laser pen suddenly becomes the most amazing thing in the world. This entertaining scene sees the lions playfully chase after a tiny red dot and clamp their claws around it. And just like every cat does, upon opening their paws, the confusion kicks in. Where’s it gone? How could it have escaped? These very important questions distract the lions and allow the group to escape, before finally making it to the British coast. But they still have to beat the sunrise to Gwen’s house and deliver the present.
Arthur Christmas is certainly the best Christmas comedy of 2011 and Grand Santa’s hilarious antics will keep you laughing for days. For me, he was certainly the star of the show.