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Joy to the world in Arthur Christmas

Do you believe in Santa? If you're reading this, the answer is (probably) no. Besides, if he lives at the North Pole, how come you can't see his house on Google Earth? And how exactly does he deliver toys to millions of kids around the world without travelling so fast that he bursts into flames? Well, it turns out that there's an answer.
He uses a spaceship (complete with cloaking technology) that looks like it could be from Star Trek. Plus, he's got a team of elves that might as well be Tom Cruise's stunt doubles on Mission: Impossible. Delivering toys is a quick and quiet covert operation. Santa (Jim Broadbent) just has to look jolly and eat mince pies.

Ruthlessly efficient approach


In charge of this complicated process is Santa's older son Steve (Hugh Laurie from House). He's the kind of military man you'd expect to be running the Pentagon, given his ruthlessly efficient approach to getting things done. That's why he doesn't really care when one toy isn't delivered. Call it collateral damage, if you will. Mission accomplished. Case closed.

But that's not good enough for Santa's younger son Arthur (James McAvoy). He's the kind of naïve and eager guy who just wants to make Christmas happy for everyone. Unfortunately, he's also a bit of a klutz. It'll be tough for him to get over his many fears - of heights, of reindeer, of buttons - but he just might be able to deliver the toy in time and be the hero who saves the day.

An absolute treat


Arthur Christmas is an absolute treat! It's from the same studio that made Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit, and Flushed Away, which explains why the writing is so darned good. I honestly can't remember the last time a movie had me laughing right from the start. In fact, some of the jokes come so fast that you'll probably have to see this movie more than once to appreciate just how funny it is.

Unfortunately, I don't think that kids will value, or even understand, the sophisticated humour as much as their parents will. There was a family sitting in front of me and I honestly don't think I heard the daughter laugh once. In all fairness, she might have been suffering from Slush Puppie sugar withdrawal. Or perhaps she was just a little overwhelmed by the amazing special effects and rollercoaster ride that is 3D. In any case, her dad did more than enough laughing for both of them!



It doesn't have to be original to be good


All in all, Arthur Christmas isn't totally original; we've seen movies about saving Christmas before. But I suppose it doesn't have to be original to be good. That's because universal themes like family and love don't have to be reinvented every year for us to appreciate them. In fact, keeping them as simple and honest as they are in Arthur Christmas is what makes us appreciate them even more.

In a world in which everyone is always chasing the newest and bestest, it's nice to stop and realise that what doesn't change is also what matters most.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Age restriction: PG

About Eugene Yiga

Eugene graduated from the University of Cape Town with distinctions in financial accounting and classical piano. He then spent over two-and-half years working in branding and communications at two of South Africa's top market research companies. Eugene also spent over three-and-a-half years at an eLearning start-up, all while building his business as an award-winning writer. Visit www.eugeneyiga.com, follow @eugeneyiga on Twitter, or email moc.agiyenegue@olleh to say, um, hello.
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