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Arthur Christmas (2 stars)

Jolly enough, but lacking usual Aardman Animation wit and charm

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Arthur Christmas

(U) 97mins

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.

Arthur Christmas Trailer

Arthur Christmas

  • 2 stars
  • 2011
  • UK/US
  • 97 min
  • U
  • Directed by: Sarah Smith
  • Written by: Peter Baynham, Sarah Smith
  • Cast: James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen, Ramona Marquez
  • UK release: 11 November 2011

Arthur Christmas (McAvoy) is the overlooked star of the Santa team, but when it looks like a small girl's present may not get delivered, he enlists the help of his curmudgeonly grandfather (Nighy). With characters boringly reflecting different degrees of niceness, this contrived family feud lacks the wit that made…

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