There can’t be a Christmas-loving child who hasn’t asked their parents: “How does Santa deliver all those presents in just one night?” Both they and we finally get an answer, thanks to this adorable yuletide movie from Aardman animation (best known for their creations Wallace And Gromit and Shaun The Sheep).
Up at the North Pole, the business of making millions of presents and delivering them to children around the world is, well, a business. Santa Claus himself (Broadbent) – whose first name is actually Malcolm – is just the latest descendant in a long line of Father Christmases who have been making tiny tots happy for centuries. Since he’s getting on a bit, he has become something of a figurehead, dropping into the occasional chimney while his eldest son Steve (Laurie) runs operations from a NASA-like hall that’s filled with elves trained with military precision. It’s these little guys (and gals) who make, wrap and deliver the gifts, Mission: Impossible style, to homes, dropping down from a giant spaceship-sleigh like mini Tom Cruises.
While all this is going on, Santa’s youngest son, bumbling, awkward and warm-hearted Arthur (McAvoy), reads all the letters from children and writes his own replies, so he is devastated when he discovers one little girl has been accidentally left out and won’t be getting the bike she has asked for. Arthur takes it upon himself to deliver the gift, with the help of his doddery Grandsanta (Nighy), a particularly chirpy elf, an ancient sleigh and a group of retired reindeer.
Packed with witty jokes (there are so many you’ll only catch some of them at a second viewing) and famous names delivering the voices (as well as the leads, there’s also Ashley Jensen and Imelda Staunton amongst the cast), this is silly, super Christmas fun that has lots of cuteness for little ones and smart humour for older audiences. It does slow down a little in the middle as Arthur’s road trip slightly repeats itself, but it never stops being a fun, lovely treat, and one that should thaw the heart of even the grumpiest Scrooge. A must-see family film, and one that is sure to become a Christmas classic in years to come.
Is Arthur Christmas suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Very young children may be frightened by the lions Arthur and his team encounter on their journey, but they are only on screen for a few minutes.
Little ones may be upset when some of the old reindeer seem to be left behind, but (SPOILER!) at the end of the movie it is shown that they all got home safely.