Combustible Celluloid
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With: (voices) James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen, Marc Wootton, Laura Linney, Eva Longoria, Ramona Marquez, Michael Palin, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Robbie Coltrane, Joan Cusack, Rhys Darby
Written by: Peter Baynham, Sarah Smith
Directed by: Sarah Smith, Barry Cook
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild rude humor
Running Time: 97
Date: 11/11/2011

Arthur Christmas (2011)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

No Child Left Behind

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the fall of 2011, too many animated movies were competing for attention and though Aardman Studio's Arthur Christmas was one of the best, it didn't quite do as well as it should have.

Like Flushed Away (2006), Arthur Christmas uses computer animation to replicate the studio's trademark stop-motion characters, but unlike that earlier film, this one looks incredible: smooth, warm, and dazzling. It even invents a few new ideas to add to the Santa Claus myth.

The plot concerns the clumsy son of Santa Claus, Arthur Christmas (voiced by James McAvoy), who is content working in a quiet office, reading and answering letters to Santa. His more upright older brother Steve (voiced by Hugh Laurie) is expecting to take over as Santa after Christmas, but Santa (voiced by Jim Broadbent) announces that he's going to keep going for another year. Meanwhile, in all the fuss, a package has gone missing and a child has gone without a present.

Arthur discovers this and takes it upon himself to right the terrible wrong. This leads to an adventure all over the world.

Directors Sarah Smith and Barry Cook sustain a bright, cheery, friendly atmosphere, perfect for holiday cheer, but also very funny and exciting. The voice cast is spot-on, and everything falls nicely into place.

Sony has waited a year to release this on DVD and Blu-ray for the 2012 holiday season, and hopefully it will find a new audience, and stick around for many Christmases to come. Extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes, and an "elf recruitment video."

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