Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
Directed by: Sarah Smith
Running time: 97 min.
Release date: November 23, 2011
Genre: Animation, Comedy and Family
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG
In the yule time cheer, Arthur Christmas reveals in CG-animation, the incredible and never before seen answer to every child's question: 'So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?' The answer: Santa's exhilarating, ultra high-tech operation is hidden beneath the North Pole with a no-mistake cyber production.
However, the center of this film is a story about Santa's family in comic dysfunction, and an ultimate hero named Arthur (voice of James McAvoy), who has an urgent mission of delivering all the presents that must be completed before Christmas morning. At the top of the Claus organization is the man himself, Santa (voice of Jim Broadbent) - but these days, he's more of a figurehead facing the prospect of retirement. Running the day-to-day dynasty is Santa's firstborn son, Steve (voice of Hugh Laurie), an alpha male. He is the next to wear the infamous 'red suit' and runs the gift delivery through a cyber organized network by pressing buttons, known as the North Pole Computer system (voice of Laura Linney).
When a little girl is overlooked and will miss getting her present, the reclusive and often undependable Arthur along with cranky and crotchety GrandSanta (voice of Bill Nighy) decide to show the family that the old way of doing things is truly the best by using the old sleigh.
The adventures and misadventures in this movie are very funny and clever. Arthur Christmas is amusing and constantly provokes laughter by exaggerating situations. The pacing of action in the plot is non-stop motion with spectacular rhythm. It's often adventurous and designed for pure audience escapism. The fantasy takes the audience to netherworld places (another dimension) where events are unlikely to occur with an element of magic, myth, wonder, and the extraordinary. Yet, Arthur himself finds himself in a coming-of-age situation where he finds that the central struggle is about him finding his place in the world.
Supporting characters are elves who are busy little beings who keep the Christmas entity alive. Cast members include Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen, Marc Wootton, Eva Longolia, Dominic West, Andy Serkis, Joan Cusack, and Rhys Darby. Their adorable images of screen are a delight. They make the story appealing with humorous scenarios. The three-act structure is well-defined and added great fun to an already handsome movie. The simplest way of looking at this animated comedy is to say that it surprises, startles, shock and delights and the essential aspect is that is goes beyond the ordinary, the dull and the familiar. It uses a whole range of comic tactics from absurdity to mockery and to sarcasm to irony. The farcical elements in the film include fairly outrageous subplots of misunderstandings and lots of verbal humor and physical slapstick, with chase scenes.
I loved every moment of the film from the beginning to the end. It's an emotionally big, funny story of Christmas that provokes enjoyment.
FILM RATING (B+)