Arthur Christmas

Film
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
Arthur Christmas

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

The north pole sure has changed since the days of the first Saint Nick. Twas a time, as 136-year-old Grandsanta (the great Nighy) might tell you, when the ho-ho-hoer of the moment made do with a reindeer-powered sleigh and a drunken elf at his side for all present-delivering duties. Now everything's invisible-spaceship-in-the-sky automated, Father Christmas No. 20 (Broadbent) is a mere figurehead, and Claus-on-deck Steve (Laurie) runs an army of elves like a Wall Street one-percenter. But there's still room for error: A British girl's gift gets lost in the shuffle, and while Steve is perfectly content to send it five-day mail, the black sheep of the Claus family---clumsy, well-meaning Arthur (McAvoy)---just can't stand the thought of one child left behind.

From this clever premise, director-cowriter Sarah Smith and the talented team of artisans at Britain's Aardman Animations have fashioned an entirely delightful 3-D CG fantasy. Everything from the film's near--Looney Tunes velocity to the character design (an aged Rudolph with plastic protective collar and detachable red nose) is sheer perfection, and even those moments where a lesser movie would tip over into sugary spirit-of-the-season sentimentality---like the climactic coming together of the Clauses---feel entirely earned. It would be a Christmas miracle save for one lump of coal: an ear-shattering Justin Bieber song over the end credits. Gotta sell something to the kids at Yuletide.

Follow Keith Uhlich on Twitter: @keithuhlich

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