Some extensive British comedy chops bring us this film that I hate to admit made me well up ever so slightly. The likes of Hugh Laurie, Michael Palin and writers behind Borat, Alan Partridge and even the director of that last Aardman film; Pirates! Bill Nighy, James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent. It's one of those films that piles on the names but knows how to use it all, with each character adding and rarely subtracting from the fun. Now it might seem like a film that's about the son of Santa delivering a present to a forgotten child is a safe bet, and you'd be right. But let's put it through the wringer anyhow.
The Christmas Story
In these modern times the North pole has had to step up their game. 1.9 Billion children in the world and Santa isn't letting that beat him. Only there isn't just Santa. Santa has two sons and a Dad and a wife and a huge line of Santas before him. One of his sons is really really into Christmas. He reads all the letters that the kids send and memorises each and everyone of them. He is the last of the old guard with Hugh Laurie's character just into business like efficiency and VersaceVersaceVersace. After delivering all the gifts for the year they shut up shop. Then they notice that they have missed one little girl. No one seems to care apart from Arthur and Bryony the elf. They set out to deliver that one gift 'cause that's all that matters at Christmas. It's climax is beyond touching and the very concept that Santa is not an individual but an idea, a figurehead, is one that could so easily go south and yet it defines so clearly what is important: Selflessness.
The Voice of Christmas
Arthur Christmas, the titular hero, is simply in all conceivable ways the voice of Christmas. He goes further still embodying it in all ways. He doesn't care about himself or about becoming Santa and the internal power struggle at the North Pole, he just wants every child on the planet to be happy. I'll explain the part that makes me well up. At the end Arthur manages to get the gift to Gwen and the look on his face is just so full of bliss and joy that it's hard to be unmoved.
The Annoying Kid at Christmas
Now this is a harder category. Most of the character in this film are essentially good people who have just lost their way. They aren't exactly annoying, even the 'annoying' ones are just funny. Santa is in many ways the most annoying character. He is so illusive and rude to Arthur, that it's a wonder he is so lovely.
The Christmas Miracle
It's has been said that Christmas shouldn't be about presents but presents aren't about money. They aren't about getting all the things you really want or need. A Christmas present no matter what it is makes you feel loved and wanted. It makes you feel that in a world of billions you matter. Arthur gets it. Gwen gets her present. It's not the biggest bike or the best bike it's a gift though and all the effort that went into it getting there symbolises the effort that anyone should put in to giving a gift.
The Christmas Message
I've played my hand too early. But I can reiterate the message here. Selflessness. Also that moment at the end. Take the time to notice cool things and nice things because really what is the point in going to all the effort if you don't get joy from the moment.
- Mrs Claus is just bliss +1
- I did a little festive cry +1
- Versace Doesn't make those Christmas suits, I know that's not the films fault but I still want one -1
- Sam would kill me if I didn't give an extra point to Michael Palin +1
Christmas softens me up. Normally I am a horrific snob that judges all things with an air of grandeur. At Christmas my defences go down and I start to love all things. Forgive all things. I realise that in this review I've maybe come across a bit lame but that's Christmas. Christmas is really lame and I really love it.
P.S. For context, outside of Christmas I gave this film a 6/10. See, the rest of the year I have no heart.