"She’ll think she’s the one child in the world Santa doesn’t care about!”
That’s the heart of Arthur Christmas, both the character and the film. “There won’t be any Christmas” has been done a lot in movies and TV. I love how this movie takes the idea of saving Christmas and makes it personal, about making sure one kid gets a present.
The film also takes the whole business of being Santa Claus and makes it more personal, too. The gift-giving enterprise is more of a family business than a one-man show. There’s:
The family dynamics ring true (who hasn’t argued over who gets to be which piece in a board game?) and great fun to watch.
And then there’s Bryony (voiced by Ashley Jensen): an eyebrow-ring wearing, wrapping-obsessed elf. She boasts, “I can wrap any present with three bits of stickity! Three!” Her gift-wrap obsession turns out to be useful at the most unexpected times. She slays me! Her jokes come out so fast that you can’t catch them all. Bryony is the sort of character who, in most movies, would be stealing the show. Every minute she was off screen, you’d be waiting for her to come back on the screen. But the overall story is so strong that she fits in seamlessly as a part of the whole.
I had a few reservations at first about the film’s design (My goodness, what big noses you have!), but you get used to the style as the film goes on. There are some surprisingly effective big 3-D scenes in the pole emphasizing how big the hole Santa operation is.
In the last 20 minutes, I was in tears from laughter and emotion in equal measure. This isn’t just a perfect holiday movie; it’s a perfect movie, period.
P.S.—Don’t leave when the credits start to roll!