The Seventeenth Day of Christmas: Arthur Christmas – A Modern Animated Classic

By: Kimbit

Arthur Christmas is from what I can tell the most recent animated Christmas movie that was released in theatres. Featuring an all-star British cast, the movie tells the story of Arthur, Santa’s clumsy son, racing against time to deliver a present to a missed child.

arthur-christmasI guess not everyone in the movie is British – just most of it.

I loved this movie. It had a refreshingly original plot and lovable characters. There were hints of elements from other Christmas movies but overall I feel that the story is unique. When I watched the trailer initially I thought it sounded bit like The Santa Clause; someone being forced to save Christmas and use of technology in the Christmas delivery procedure – but it really isn’t.

The movie was filled with some amazing heartwarming moments but it was actually pretty hilarious as well. Grandsanta, voiced by Bill Nighy, created the majority of the laughs with his batty elderly antics. Additionally, there was clever use of text in bottom left hand corner to not only update the viewer of the status (location and time) but also display amusing tidbits about what is happening. I actually laughed out loud the first time the status came up after the first reindeer was lost with the accompanying “Reindeer: 7.5”.

arthur-christmas-cn-towerToronto even made a cameo appearance!

The animation was also wonderfully well done. It was computer animated in 3D by Aardman Animations which is a British animation studio (they tried to keep everything as British as possible clearly) best known for their stop motion animations Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, and Shaun the Sheep. I mean it’s no Pixar but wow it is still quite nice to look at and doesn’t have the strange animated but doesn’t feel animated look of recent motion capture animated Christmas movies.

If you really think about it though, when was the last time you saw an animated Christmas movie that isn’t based on an existing story? TV movies tend to use existing cartoon characters from TV shows or movies and even the more recent animated films are not original. There are not a lot of recent theatrically released films but to give an example both A Christmas Carol and The Polar Express (interesting enough both by Robert Zemeckis who is big on motion capture animation) are both based on books.

polar-express dead eyes.jpgPolar Express has that dead eye thing going for it.

Unfortunately, Arthur Christmas never did great at the box office, going up against heavyweights Hugo and The Muppets which pulled in many more viewers. In the United Kingdom, it did reach #1 at the box office 4 weeks into its run, right around Christmas. Also, it did get nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film but lost out to The Adventures of Tintin (which was never even nominated for an Academy Award!).

Overall I hope Arthur Christmas finds new life on DVD and Blu-ray similar to how other Christmas movies have become classics (like It’s a Wonderful Life which didn’t become popular until about 30 years after its release). Arthur Christmas’ commentary on the technological changing times solidifies it as a movie from this time period and when looking back on this movie as a possible classic it will remind people of this point in time.

arthur-christmas-cameosIt features cameos from Sony Picture Animations first feature film Open Season (left) and Aardman Animations Shaun the Sheep TV show and movie (right)

If you haven’t watched Arthur Christmas and you can appreciate PG animated films – definitely add it to your Christmas movie list. I know that I will be adding this to my collection of top Christmas movies!

Have you seen Arthur Christmas and disagree with my opinion (or agree with it)? Let us know in the comments!


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