Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'Arthur Christmas' Review

Arthur and Bryony the elf in "Arthur Christmas"
"Arthur Christmas" will be coming to town Nov. 23, but CC and I caught an advance screening of this touching, family-friendly movie last week -- and loved it.

You might have read my positive preview here, but now that we've seen the entire Aardman/Sony Pictures Animation movie, I can definitely say that CC and I are big fans. In fact, my little Christmas elf has asked me to retell part of the story every time we're in the car. (But more on that later.)

As I wrote in my previous post: "'Arthur Christmas' is the story of the younger, bumbling and Christmas-sweater-loving son of Santa Claus. Voiced by James McAvoy, Arthur wants every child to believe in Santa and the Christmas spirit. While he's the heart of the operation, his older brother Steve (Hugh Laurie) is the brains. Steve's got Christmas Eve present-giving down to military precise operation. And there are some serious G.I. Elves here.

Field elves on Christmas Eve.
"But there's one problem. One child -- a girl who's on the fence about the existence of Santa -- gets left out by elf error. And it's Arthur and his GrandSanta (Bill Nighy) who want to make things right. The old-fashioned way."

Arthur is also joined by a gift-wrapped-obsessed elf named Bryony (Ashley Jensen). She is CC's favorite character, and who could blame her? Not only is Bryony a faithful friend, she's also sassy, fun and seriously determined to give children the best-wrapped presents ever.

As a parent, I especially loved Arthur's wide-eyed wonder at Christmas and his admiration of dad, Santa Claus -- "the best man ever" in his eyes. When that's contrasted with Steve's lack of the proverbial Christmas spirit ("Christmas isn't a time for emotion," he says at one point), you see how nice it is to revel in being a kid again.

There are also a lot of clever moments in this 3D movie (and I'm not just talking about that Justin Bieber music video at the beginning, which CC enjoyed despite my lack of Bieber hysteria). The Kidscan, which I mentioned before, measures kids' naughty or nice score, and there's the HOHO 3000, aka Handheld Operational and Homing Organizer. There's even a squeaky cameo of Aardman's Shaun the Sheep.

What CC seemed to love the most -- and what she's made me retell a dozen times already -- is a moment in the movie (I'm not giving anything away) when Arthur is visiting a child's house and meets a chihuahua that loves his fuzzy reindeer slippers.

What Arthur does for the chihuahua is sweet, tender and full of holiday spirit -- something I love to see in my own little elf.

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