Jolly enough, but lacking usual Aardman Animation wit and charm
In over two decades since Wallace and Gromit’s A Grand Day Out, Aardman Animation have become a byword for family entertainment, but Arthur Christmas, their latest attempt at a blockbuster, never reaches the same lovable heights.
As he selflessly answers letters prior to his father’s annual present-bringing extravaganza, Arthur Christmas (voiced by James McAvoy) is clearly the undervalued star of Santa’s team. With his musical slippers and hand-knitted jumper, Arthur seems destined to be overlooked when the central role of Santa is passed from his father (Jim Broadbent) to his older brother Steve (Hugh Laurie). But when a mechanical malfunction means that a seven year old Cornish girl might go empty handed on Xmas morning, Arthur attempts a last-minute delivery with the help of his curmudgeonly grandfather (Bill Nighy).
Sarah Smith’s film is heavy on slick computer-generated glitz, but there’s little of the original Aardman spirit to be had in Arthur Christmas, which positions a contrived family feud about how best to deliver presents at its heart. With the characters boringly reflecting different degrees of niceness, Arthur Christmas feels like a TV short padded out, jolly enough for small kids, but lacking in the wit and charm that made the studio’s name.
Out now on general release.