The smallest kids might be entertained and find their holiday cheer, but if you’re an adult you likely will find it to be a loud combustible sled wreck. Arthur Christmas has a high octane opening prologue with Santa (Jim Broadbent) and his elves operating like a battalion, dropping in by airship, as they spend just minutes administering presents to an entire town after dark on Christmas Eve. Our title hero Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy), the son of Santa, is a simple mailroom manager who gets in the way of busy elves at Mission Control an awful lot of the time. Their duty is to cater gifts to every child in the whole world, but this time, just a couple of hours before Christmas dusk it is learned that one child has been forgotten. Santa and his helpers, and his other big brother Steve (Hugh Laurie), don’t believe there is anything that can be done. But it doesn’t stop Arthur’s efforts from making that trip to England from the North Pole to deliver that kid’s tricycle. The rest is a ceaseless fast-paced “ride” that never stops banging and clanging, never stops making noise. Ebenezer Scrooge has more heart than this commercial exploitation. Accompanying 3D sucks, too, but what’s new?
Teaming up with Arthur is Grandfather Santa (Bill Nighy) who thinks that the industrious airship has dishonored tradition, and wants to make that delivery by reindeer sleigh. The old dusty sleigh still works, but it’s not long before they crash into this and that, and get derailed here and there, and are mistaken for an UFO by the U.N. who swears to strike them down by aerial task force. To eat up time, our lumberjack-looking main Santa has regrets not making an effort to that final child and decides it is worth it to crank up the engine. Not knowing that Arthur and Grandpa already have a big lead on that, of course.
As expected Arthur, whom is maladroit like Jay Baruchel, arrives in time to sneak in and deliver the gift before Christmas dawn. But just when you thought it is close to the end of the movie, it turns out he has arrived at the wrong address. Good grief! More repetitive scenes of misdirection, crashes and detour follow, much to the same beat. Someone fix me a nightcap.
97 Minutes. Rated PG.
MINDLESS MOVIE / GOOFY COMEDY / SUNDAY NIGHT FAMILY MOVIE
Film Cousins: “A Christmas Story” (1983); “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989); “Toy Story” (1995); “Elf” (2003).