OK, the Holidays are almost over (not here, we celebrate until Epiphany, but still) I think it’s time to analyze this movie:
Synopsis: It turns out that Santa Claus and his elves use ultramodern technology (part of which was ripped off the American Missile Program, apparently) to deliver all their presents in one night. Also, Santa Claus isn’t a single person, but rather a position passed from father to son.
The current Santa Claus has two sons- Arthur and Steve. Arthur’s heart is in the right place but he’s a terrible bumbler; Steve is the opposite, he runs the whole operation in anything but name but doesn’t care that much about children. Rounding out the family are Mrs. Claus and Gransanta, the previous Santa Claus, who complains about the modernization of the process all the time.
The trouble starts when (due to being distracted by a boy who nearly saw Santa) one present goes undelivered: a bicycle for a little girl named Gwen. Steve doesn’t want to go back and deliver it because he fears it might overheat and damage the S-1 (the giant spaceship they use instead of a sleight.) Arthur however is obsessed with not allowing even one child’s Christmas to be ruined. Grandsanta offers to help him deliver the gift using the original sleight, Eve.
Unfortunately, Eve is not invisible to radar, unlike the S-1. Its presence sends the nations of the world into thinking they are being attacked by an UFO. That, and several comical errors, keep Arthur from delivering the present. Steve demands that he return, but he won’t. When Santa sides with Steve, Arthur realizes that no one except him really cares about delivering the presents; there is no true Santa Claus. Even Grandsanta was doing it just to relive his old glory. This emotionally crushes him, until he finds Gwen’s letter, and he realizes it doesn’t matter who is Santa Claus, as long as children still believe in him. Renovating his efforts -and this time, with the help of Steve, Santa and his mother- Arthur finally delivers the gift before the morning sun awakens Gwen, preserving her sense of wonder.
Afterwards -and this is something the movie stresses- everyone is happy, as they come up with all sort of deals such as an official title for Steve to be besides Santa Claus. And yes, Arthur becomes the actual new Santa.
My Opinion: OK, let me divest myself of my emotions first so I can fairly judge this movie: I LOVED IT. This is the first movie in a long time that has truly made me feel how special the “Christmas spirit” is (that is sort of the whole point.) Also: DAMN this thing is funny! It’s one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-a-gag (or a reference) movies, which is why I had to see it twice. And I can’t wait to get it in DVD so I can freeze-frame check everything!!
Ahem Now, the sober analysis:
As much as I love it, I can’t help but feel that the premise is flawed. Why can’t Santa Claus be seen? (the movie says that people would hunt him down, but why? Is it to get his technology?) And why is it so important that children do not realize that Santa isn’t magical? Would they care less about their toys if they knew they were produced by machines? Hello? yeah yeah I know, sense of wonder, but you have to grow out of it someday, so it isn’t a vital thing. Also, why can’t Santa have an agreement with adults, so they can help him instead of impeding him? Heck, why cannot it be arranged so there are other days for delivering Xmas presents besides Christmas Eve (like in, you know, REAL LIFE, here we get them on Epiphany) to make the job easier?
(And before anybody says I’m overthinking this, I’m not the one who decided to insert realism into the whole Christmas formula, I was OK with as it was. If you are going to do it, explain yourself well!)
But how about the story itself? Overall, we had a lot of obsessed people clashing with each other: even Arthur, for all we are supposed to be on his side, comes across as not being rational. There’s even one scene where an Elf asks Arthur what to do, and he just doesn’t know; and another where he admits that his only talent is worrying about things. But I actually like that; real people often let their emotions cloud their judgement. Ánd it isn’t like Arthur suddenly becomes competent due to his belief, he still has a lot of problems while trying to do the right thing. Besides, there’s a parody of the “think happy thoughts” scene from Peter Pan except involving Arthur’s neurosis, that doesnt make much sense but is HILARIOUS.
The animation is gorgeous; from the sweeping vistas from the sky to the incredibly natural body language of the characters, this is one of the best CGI movies I’ve ever seen (my only problem were the Elves, that looked more like dolls than people. The human characters are Ok, so I wonder if that was done on purpose.) And there are SO many visual jokes hidden in the background (like the brand of Steve’s Santa costume being Versace.)
My Conclusion: Arthur Christmas is an instant classic, and has great replay potential (just try to spot every in-joke in one sitting.) The story isn’t too deep but you DO get into the spirit of things, which is the whole point. I can’t recommend it enough, except to Scrooges who don’t like Xmas.