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‘Arthur Christmas’: Bah, Humbug!

December 19, 2011

A word of advice to parents who are looking for ways to kill time over the holiday vacation and considering a trip to see Arthur Christmas: Don’t. If you’ve already taken your tots to the excellent Hugo and The Muppets, and (like me) can’t stomach the thought of more dancing penguins or singing chipmunks, just stay home. I wish I had.

My 15- and 10-year-old children are too jaded sophisticated to want to see this animated misfire about Santa Claus’ neglected younger son, Arthur (blandly voiced by James McAvoy), who aspires to fill his old man’s boots and sets out to deliver a gift to a little girl in England who was overlooked. So I went with my girlfriend and her seven- and four-year-old kids; in fact, we were the only people in the suburban New Jersey theater where we caught a Sunday early-evening show. Everyone else in town must’ve been nice this year, because we got a cinematic lump of coal.

Alternately frenetic and deadly dull, the story pits Arthur against his militaristic brother Steve (Hugh Laurie, phoning it in) in a race to deliver a bicycle to a remote English village using Santa’s high-tech transport system. Only Jim Broadbent seems to get into the holiday spirit as the voice of the current St. Nick. Call me Scrooge, but I didn’t care whether this anonymous tyke got her bike, and I found the characters—with their disturbingly bulbous noses—to be grotesque eyesores.

Maybe I was just in a bad mood after being forced to sit through a music video for Justin Bieber’s joyless rendition of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” (from the Arthur Christmas soundtrack) prior to the film. Funny, I don’t recall the “Shake it, shake it, baby!” verse in the original.

So you better watch out: Arthur Christmas—and Justin Bieber—is coming to town.

Did Arthur Christmas make you merry? Don’t be a Grinch—post a comment!

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