I have to admit “Arthur Christmas” splashed onto the scene a couple of years ago and left before I had even noticed. I love Aardman Animations—I have ever since my wife discovered “Wallace and Gromit.” So when my son and I sat down to watch this film I was delightfully surprised to see that Aardman created “Arthur Christmas.”
We open with a child named Gwen writing a letter to Santa. She has big questions and is a budding physicist to boot. How can Santa get around the entire world so quickly without incinerating the reindeer and sleigh? How big is that sack of presents? How come she hasn’t seen his house or the elves when she zooms in on the North Pole on Google Maps?Finally she gets to her wish for Christmas: a new pink bike. She draws a picture of the Big Man with flames licking up from his back.
We next zoom in on the North Pole only to discover Santa’s hidden operation center deep under the snow at the Pole. As our filed of view travels down a hallway, we see the rogues gallery of Santas past. We start with Saint Nicholas, and then many others until the current one is displayed with no end date on the small plaque on the frame. And we meet Arthur Christmas— in charge of letters for Santa. He reads the letter from this young girl with delight and loves the crayon drawing, posting it to his bulletin board. As the camera pulls back, we see stacks and stacks of letters that Arthur has replied to. He finds delight in each one.
And then we learn how Santa does it. He has thousands of elves and a hi-tech center run by Steve Christmas—and we learn that Steve and Arthur are both sons of Santa. Steve is the heir apparent, and has the logistics down cold, with an emphasis on cold. It’s all about numbers and getting everything executed with precision.
Except they miss one present accidentally (I’ll let you see the particulars of why), and it’s Arthur who wants to return the gift so the young child in question—it turns out to be Gwen—gets the gift she asked for from Santa and isn’t left in the dust.
Arthur’s dedication to Gwen and bringing her joy sealed it for me. If you haven’t seen this one, you really should. I give it:
Next film: “Christmas Vacation.”