Pour yourself some mulled wine and reach for that second mince pie, Christmas is fast approaching and with it comes the usual onslaught of festive-themed films. This year’s animated, family-friendly offering is Arthur Christmas, a surprisingly touching tale of one boy’s struggle to keep the magic of Christmas alive for today’s increasingly cynical youth. Arthur is the younger son of Malcolm Christmas and second in line to inherit the role after his elder brother Stephen. Sporting an enviable woolly jumpy and fluffy slippers combo, he cuts a likeably hapless hero that the audience roots for right from the beginning. Young Arthur is in love with the spirit of Christmas, which is slightly unfortunate seeing as Stephen has reduced the present-delivering process to a ruthlessly efficient, military style operation. A crisis occurs when Stephen’s system accidently leaves out one child, meaning she will wake up without a present on Christmas morning. With the help of GrandSanta (brilliantly voiced by Bill Nighy), a plucky elf named Bryony, an aging sleigh and any reindeer he can find, Arthur sets off on a quest to deliver the present to little Gwen before sunrise.
Taking inspiration from the Shrek school of comedy, Arthur Christmas has enough clever lines to keep adult audiences entertained while children will simply get swept along for the sleigh ride. The irony of the U.S Government blowing up Santa’s sleigh (a relic of Christmases past) will likely be lost on younger members of the audience but no doubt appreciated by their cash-strapped parents. In today’s consumer orientated society, the film’s focus on the true values of the festive season (family, tradition and magic to name but a few) is quietly moving in its simplicity. Arthur Christmas is probably not going to become a classic or take awards season by storm, but it’s reassuring to know that Hollywood is still able to churn out a good, wholesome family film when it wants to.