How does Santa deliver all those presents in a single night? The enormously entertaining computer-animated comedy Arthur Christmas answers this question – and many more besides – with wit, charm and ingenuity.
It turns out that the annual festive mission has been carried out by a long line of Santas and has evolved considerably over the years. The latest Santa (voiced by Jim Broadbent) is little more than a figurehead and it’s his alpha male eldest son Steve (Hugh Laurie) who is really running the show. Steve has turned the present-delivery business into a slick hi-tech operation involving a mile-wide, sleigh-shaped stealth craft and a million elves, who have 18.14 seconds to nip in and out of each household on Earth.
But when a glitch occurs and a child in a Cornish village misses out on her present, it’s Steve’s meek and clumsy younger brother Arthur (James McAvoy) who resolves to put things right. Accompanied by his grandfather, Bill Nighy’s doddering Grandsanta, and by feisty elf Bryony (Ashley Jensen), a lowly member of Santa’s Giftwrap Battalion, Arthur sets forth on Grandsanta’s old-fangled, reindeer-drawn sleigh to get the missing gift to its destination in time.
Arthur Christmas is a real treat – as warm-hearted as its hero and as inventive as his brother. It’s also quirky and quintessentially British, traits it shares with producers Aardman Animations’ best-known hit, Wallace and Gromit. Director Sarah Smith and her co-writer Peter Baynham deserve similar success. Like Santa’s sack, their film is stuffed with so many surprises and delights it will keep on giving over many Christmas viewings to come.
On general release from Friday 11th November.