With the limited number of Christmas films in theaters this holiday season, families will likely find themselves watching reruns of their favorite holiday movies at home. Since I had already run through a few of my own favorites (“A Christmas Story”, “Elf”, and “Scrooged”), I decided to stop reciting lines, and hit the theaters for a fresh holiday film.
Basically limited to one option, I purchased a ticket for “Arthur Christmas”. I knew very little about the film other than the fact it had grossed almost $73 million internationally since it was released in the United Kingdom on Nov. 11.
Considering the fact that box-office revenues are on-track with the anticipated results of Sony Pictures Animation, I was a bit surprised to find myself as the only guest in the theater.
The film introduces Arthur, Santa Clause’s youngest son, whose love for Christmas is evident as he responds to children’s Christmas letters. As a youthful, inexperienced and clumsy character, Arthur is seen as an outcast by the elves and his older brother Steve, whose operation of Santa’s high-tech present delivery system has him as the frontrunner to become the next Santa.
After delivering the presents, Santa and the elves return to the North Pole, where it is discovered that one child’s present has gone undelivered. When Steve and Santa hear about the incident, they are quick to dismiss Arthur’s pressure to deliver the gift to Gwen, the forgotten child.
As Arthur frets over the incident, his grandfather, Grand-Santa, agrees to deliver the gift with Arthur’s help. After a family argument, which left him feeling mocked, Grand-Santa’s true motive is less about generosity than it is about proving that he’s “still got it”. Using the since outdated sleigh and reindeer method, Grand-Santa and Arthur head off to deliver the present before Christmas Day.
Amidst all the family squabbling and unexpected obstacles along the way, Arthur must stay focused on maintaining his holiday spirit, and delivering the gift so that Gwen can still have a Christmas.
When the film ended, I was even more surprised that I was the only one in the theater. This film should have had a packed auditorium. It was that good.
I am not generally big on animated films in particular, but this one seems impossible to dislike. Along with some of the sharpest animation I have seen in recent years, the plot is developed at a pace that prevents boredom (if that were at all possible), and the characters are absolutely hysterical.
What really sets this film apart, though, is that it veers from that same age-old story of Christmas that people have grown to expect.
When have you ever seen a spacecraft used to deliver Christmas presents? When have you ever seen special-ops elves with “naughty or nice” meters? When have you ever seen lions, zebras, and elephants floating around the Serengeti after getting a dose of reindeer magic?
Turn off your televisions, stop the reruns, and go see “Arthur Christmas”, but beware the “Chipmunks” preview. Only those screechy voices could make a Lady Gaga song any worse.