When I heard about Arthur Christmas I was pretty darn pleased, I'll tell you that. I love Christmas movies. I love Aardman Animation. I love British stalwarts of cinema Jim Broadbent and Bill Nighy. This movie combined all of those things, with an added sprinkling of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jensen, all people that I like a lot.
|Christmas just wouldn't be possible without the National Elf Service, of course.|
|You may not recognise Bill Nighy in the middle but, trust me, that's him.|
Barry Cook and Sarah Smith are the co-directors and Sarah Smith also co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Baynham which means that she gets to have the bonus points for steering everything so smoothly. The story is a very slim one, VERY slim, but it's enriched by the different character motivations and the amusing sideroads that are taken (sometimes literally).
It's also enriched by that great cast I mentioned up there in the opening paragraph. McAvoy is cheery and endearing as Arthur, Broadbent and Nighy are both very good as Santas a generation apart and Hugh Laurie is also enjoyable as someone who may seem bad but may also just be a bit misguided. Imelda Staunton is a fine vocal fit for Mrs. Santa and Ashley Jensen suits being an elf. Speaking of elves, other names such as Marc Wootton, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Robbie Coltrane, Joan Cusack, Jane Horrocks and Andy Serkis also lend their voices to a number of Santa's little helpers while Laura Linney provides the voice of the main computers used in the North Pole and on the delivery vehicles and Eva Longoria plays a government official who mistakes a flying sleigh for a potential threat.
You could say that it's just far too lightweight and sweet for its own good and you'd be perfectly entitled to your opinion but I expect sweetness from my Christmas movies and enjoy anything that doesn't overdo it all to the point of putting me into a diabetic coma. As for it being lightweight, it is. Yet it also manages to take the ever-so-slim premise and turn it into a feature that you will watch and enjoy without feeling as if it ever outstays its welcome.
To sum up then - another winner from Aardman Animation and definitely one to consider buying now and then leaving under the Christmas tree for the kids to unwrap on December 25th.