Alright Wanderers, you know what we’re like by now. In this office, we have little more than a passing interest in age ratings on things that are supposed to be for kids. Fortunately, we’re not alone in that. And so it was that when my friends and I got together for a Christmas party earlier this week, the fact that one of them turned up with a copy of Arthur Christmas and a big grin on her face was not in the least bit surprising.
Our eponymous hero is a gangly young bloke who we first meet while he’s in the middle of replying to assorted letters to Santa, on behalf of his father, the jolly fat man himself. It’s immediately clear that Arthur loves Christmas, and he’s immensely proud of his father, the current Santa. That’s right – Santa is a hereditary title rather than a single bloke – Arthur’s “Grand-Santa” handed over to his son seventy missions ago and now, seventy ‘missions’ later, Arthur’s brother Steve is waiting to take over. But things don’t quite go according to plan – not only does their slightly absent-minded father seem to have no intention of hanging up his red suit yet, but despite Steve’s super-efficient running of the actual operations side of things, it seems that the worst has happened. This year, they’ve incurred what Steve describes as a very small ‘margin of error’. Arthur and the elves see things slightly differently: A child has been missed!
Without Steve’s hi-tech equipment – and with Santa reluctantly persuaded that missing one child out of two billion isn’t the end of the world – Arthur sets out to ensure that Gwen Hines (of Trelew, England) wakes up to find a perfectly-wrapped bike from Santa under the tree on Christmas morning. Grand-Santa agrees to help him out, taking with them Briony, a plucky elf from the wrapping department. Together, this unlikely rescue team set out on a heart-warming quest to save one little girl’s Christmas.
Arthur Christmas was only released last year, in 2011, but it looks set to be a Christmas favourite from now on. I’m not basing that on statistics, but I really liked it and so did the people I watched it with, so that’s at least six of us. In all seriousness, though, it’s got all the essential components of a true Christmas classic that will endure for a long time yet. There’s a great seasonal moral message that isn’t forced on you at all, just casually left lying around where you’re sure to pick it up. There’s a generous helping of Christmas magic. And there’s also a bloomin’ massive spaceship. What’s not to love?
One of the really great things about this film, though, is that it’s not the kind of thing you’d just stick on for younger relatives and suffer through. You might be tempted to be a little sarcastic about the whole concept, for the first… I’d give it two and a half minutes before you drop the attitude and get completely engrossed. After all, while kids will love the film’s clumsy hero and hardworking elves, adults will find a lot to enjoy too. There are a lot of jokes the kids won’t get, some extremely incisive little commentaries on the world we live in, and your mum will probably roll her eyes at the wry observational humour provided in the character of Mrs Margaret Christmas, who really doesn’t get enough credit from all the boys at the North Pole.
All in all, while the Santa setup in this film isn’t quite the traditional one, it’s a truly touching tale showing how everyone matters and some things aren’t about numbers. If you’re looking for a little seasonal magic the whole family can enjoy, this might just be the ideal film for you.
Eleanor Musgrove (would like a real grown-up racing bike, please, Santa. A red one.)