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'Arthur Christmas': What the Critics Are Saying

Arthur Christmas Sleigh Film Still - H 2011
Sony Pictures

The animated 3D holiday film from creators of “Chicken Run” was praised for its talented voice cast and “lively innovation.”

Thanksgiving weekend is packed with family-friendly film choices, from Martin Scorcese’s Hugo to the first Muppets film to hit theaters in 12 years. But Arthur Christmas, a 3D Christmas adventure from the British animation group behind Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, has made a strong showing in critics’ eyes despite its somewhat familiar storyline.

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With a dream voice cast of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie and Bill Nighy, the animated film follows the son of Santa, Arthur Christmas, who must use his father’s hi-tech operation for an urgent mission after discovering an undelivered present.

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Critics received the film favorably overall, many citing the talented voice cast for its success. The film was also praised for its ability to captivate both children and adults.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Michael Rechtshaffen wrote that the film brought “a delightful blast of fresh air” to the Christmas genre. He added that the film is “an endlessly amusing 3D, CG-animated Yuletide romp with lively innovation at every turn and a dream voice cast.”

“Visually, Arthur Christmas is splendidly state-of-the-art and vividly appointed right down to the tiniest detail,” wrote Rechtshaffen.

Michael O’Sullivan of The Washington Post called the film “a worthy addition to the Christmas movie canon.”

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“It's funny and good-looking, with an impeccable voice cast of U.K. actors,” added O’Sullivan. “It's also unexpectedly fresh, despite the familiar-sounding premise.”

“This scrappy, smart animated tale can hold its own against the rest of the genre,” wrote The New York Times’ Neil Genzlinger. “The plot may be a little too cluttered for the toddler crowd to follow, but the next age group up should be amused, and the script by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith has plenty of sly jokes for grown-ups.”

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David Germain of The AP wrote that the film has the “old-fashioned spirit of Christmas at heart, spinning a snowflake-light tale with warmth, energy and goofy humor.”

“The visual gags will carry youngsters along, while there are plenty of clever wisecracks to keep their parents occupied,” added Germain.

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“While reveling in its cleverness, I found the relentless imposition of modernity on the Santa myth a mite depressing,” wrote Time Magazine’s Mary Pols.

“Arthur Christmas is not ultimately a cynical movie – it comes together sweetly and rather movingly at the end – but it springs forth from a place of cynicism,” added Pols.