Star-studded cast completes 'Arthur Christmas' (VIDEO)
Lovable characters, expressive voice acting makes Christmas tale 'adorable'
In Arthur Christmas, James McAvoy voices the clumsy young Arthur -- the son of Santa Claus, who has an unparalleled passion for Christmas. The film runs for 97 minutes, and is rated PG for some mild rude humor.
Unless it's Pixar or Disney, I disinterestedly skip animated films. Sony's Arthur Christmas, however, was an exception from the moment its trailer appeared. An English animated movie? Sign me up! Directed by Sarah Smith, the film will be released, Nov. 23.
In the movie, Arthur (James McAvoy) is our protagonist: a clumsy, silly young man with an unparalleled passion for Christmas. Since his family is Christmas's equivalent to the royal family, Arthur's father is Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) and his older brother is Steve (Hugh Laurie), first in line to the role of Santa.
Living at the North Pole, the family and a massive number of elves control the delivery of gifts with high tech strategies and gadgets. Santa and an army of elves travel around the world, and sneak through the gift delivery like ninjas.
While Steve pedantically manages the operation through mission control, Arthur contentedly sorts through letters from children. He is particularly touched by the letter from a young girl named Gwen (Ramona Marquez), from Cornwall, England. During a slight emergency on Santa's delivery route, Gwen's requested pink bike falls out of the assembly line, unnoticed.
After great celebration with the completion of the night's gift delivering, Arthur is appalled to learn that an expert wrapping elf, Briony (Ashley Jensen), has discovered the undelivered bike. When Steve responds to the situation with apathy, Arthur is even more horrified that his overbearing, obsessive brother would allow a child to go without gifts.
Desperate to deliver Gwen's bike before she awakens in the morning, Arthur consults his grandfather, the retired Santa, Grandsanta (Bill Nighy). The two get the old sleigh and reindeer out of storage, then set out to England for Gwen.
Along the way they discover Briony as a stowaway, and encounter obstacles and issues, often arriving in the wrong location. As they leave a destructive path over the world, citizens mistake them for aliens and, meanwhile, Steve discovers that Arthur has compromised the Christmas family's reputation and mission.
The movie was, in one word: adorable. Considering the lighthearted storyline and the lovable protagonist, I purely enjoyed Arthur Christmas, even though it was headache-inducing to sit in the front row of a 3D movie.
With such a star-studded cast, it was impossible for the movie to be boring. I am used to seeing these amazing actors like McAvoy, Laurie, Nighy, Broadbent and Imelda Staunton (as Mrs. Santa) onscreen, so I was eager to see how they would implement their skills without actually appearing. Unsurprisingly, these accomplished actors projected an incredible amount character in their roles.
McAvoy's performance was my favorite. There was something so lovable about the pairing of his goofy, innocent voice with the gangly, awkward character. Even though his only tool was his voice, McAvoy conveyed so much personality, bringing Arthur's adorable enthusiasm for Christmas alive.
The real scene-stealer, though, was Briony. Jensen's Irish accent was the icing on the cake of the slightly punk, gift-wrapping-obsessed elf. Arthur's passion for Christmas can only be topped for Briony's absolute delight in wrapping. Whether it is a bike or a lion, she dashes around the screen with green wrapping paper, insistently declaring that "there is always time for a bow!"
"The movie was, in one word: adorable. Considering the lighthearted storyline and the lovable protagonist, I purely enjoyed Arthur Christmas, even though it was headache-inducing to sit in the front row of a 3D movie." --Mary Hierholzer, '12
Though these two were the definite standouts, other characters were hardly overshadowed. It was very enjoyable to see (or hear) Laurie in a lighthearted role after his years as the grumpy television character, House. His history in comedy was evident in his animated tone.
According to the Internet Movie Database, a whole host of big names, such as Michael Palin, Eva Longoria, Joan Cusack and Laura Linney shared their voices as elves and other side characters. Looking back, I cannot place these voices, but I look forward to watching the movie again to pinpoint the appearances.
In true English fashion, Arthur Christmas did not rely too heavily on slapstick humor, and was, on the contrary, rather wordy at times. While I did not have a problem following the dialogue, it did not always seem like the most appealing form or story-telling for children. There were, however, plenty of appealing and amusing visuals.
It was easy for me to laugh during this movie, both at childish slapstick moments, and those more mature (but not inappropriate) jokes for older audiences. Everyone around me in the theater was laughing; the movie was not directed solely at children.
I firmly believe that animated movies can be just as enjoyable as mature films. Everyone needs a good laugh, especially during Christmastime! In that respect, Arthur Christmas is definitely a success. It may not be as legendary as Toy Story 3 or Up, but it is certainly an enjoyable and adorable film.
Arthur Christmas will be shown in both 3D and regular animation. The film runs for 97 minutes, and is rated PG for some mild rude humor. For tickets and showtimes, visit Fandango.
For more movie reviews, read the Nov. 8 article, 'Anonymous' risks quality with innacuracy (VIDEO).