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Running Time:
1 hour, 137 minutes

Rating: PG Parental Guidance Suggested.

Rating Explanation:
or some mild rude humor

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
A earnest but delightfully clever holiday entertainment with surprising emotional strength.

Additional Info:
James McAvoy ... Arthur
Hugh Laurie ... Steve
Bill Nighy ... Grandsanta
Jim Broadbent ... Santa
Imelda Staunton ... Mrs. Santa
Ashley Jensen ... Bryony
Marc Wootton ... Peter
Laura Linney ... North Pole Computer
Eva Longoria ... Chief De Silva
Ramona Marquez ... Gwen
Michael Palin ... Ernie Clicker
Robbie Coltrane ... Lead Elf

Arthur Christmas
Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy), is a computer animated, earnest young man who works in the mail room at the North Pole. He's not an elf, though: he's Santa's son. His older brother, Steve (Hugh Laurie), a barrel-chested authoritarian with a Christmas-tree-shaped goatee, runs their father's gift-delivering operation with military precision. Santa himself (voiced perfectly by Jim Broadbent), is mostly just a figurehead now, a kindly, doddering fellow who accompanies the army of elves on their Christmas Eve "missions" but doesn't really do anything much.

Santa is the twentieth person to hold the title of "Santa," and he's been on the job for 70 years. Everyone assumes he will soon retire and name Steve his successor. But when he and the elves return to mission control after an exhausting night of delivering presents on Christmas Eve, an alarming discovery is made: for the first time in decades, a child has been missed. Here's her present all wrapped up and still sitting at the North Pole. In a few hours she'll wake up and be devastated.

For Arthur, this is unthinkable. He can't imagine a poor little girl waking up with no present from Santa, and he refuses to simply go to bed and forget about her. WIth the help of his long-retired Grandsanta (Bill Nighy), he gets the old-fashioned magic sleigh and reindeer out of drydock and heads out into the world for his very first adventure, along with Bryony (Ashley Jensen), an elf from the wrapping department who is determined to make sure that present shows up in perfect condition, complete with a bow.

Like most Aardman projects, (the people who created Wallace and Gromit) the sense of humor here is slightly goofy, very verbal and fast-paced, and dry in a way that many American films for kids aren't. Even it's broadest moments play with a gentle sensibility which is what sets Arthur Christmas apart. It is often very funny, and if there's really nothing else on its mind, that's okay. Technically, it's a sharp production, with a real sense of scale, but it is missing the hand-crafted quality of the early stop-motion Aardman films. The film's director Sarah Smith  comes from a live-action background in British comedy, and she does a nice job staging the physical mayhem and the character work, but despite her edgy background she didn't try to make this too adult. It's aimed squarely at families, and it comes out more sweet than edgy, and for this holiday project, that's just fine.



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