November 28, 2011 -- This 3D animated Sony and Aardman Animations release is almost a classic Christmas story, except it is a little overlong and carries its Santa in distress cliffhangers on a little too far. It has strong characters, however, and a basically good story about the true Christmas spirit and a child getting lost in the Christmas rush.
In this Christmas story, Arthur is the younger son of Santa Claus. He is a klutz, who has been relegated to handling letters to Santa, while his well-organized older brother, Steve, runs the high-tech Santa Control Center at the North Pole. Steve is next in line to be Santa. Their father is obviously over the hill. He is Santa in title only. Steve and the elves do most of the work, even on Christmas Eve. The presents are mostly delivered by elves using a high-tech monster space ship that travels lightning fast and can hold billions of presents.
The story takes place on Christmas Eve, when the crew has just finished another successful Christmas, except for one glitch. A bicycle that was supposed to have been delivered to Gwen, a young girl in Cornwall, is misplaced. Arthur is unable to get his father or Steve to deliver the gift, so he decides to deliver it himself, with the aid of an elf, Bryony, his grandfather and his grandfather's old sleigh, one old reindeer and some younger reindeer who are the descendants of the original Christmas reindeer.
Most of the rest of the movie is taken up with Arthur's adventures trying to get to Gwen's house in Cornwall with the aid of a GPS device and a lot of magic gas. One wrong turn after another besets the intrepid package deliverers. They get lost, reindeer wander off, they are shot at and the sleigh is attacked by a guided missile. Along the way, Arthur's grandfather confesses his last delivery almost started World War III. It turns out everyone has an agenda, except for Arthur, who just wants to deliver the present, and Bryony, who is obsessed with making sure the package is properly wrapped when it is delivered. Eventually Santa, his wife, and Steve are also caught up in the adventure.
There are so many setbacks on the journey to Cornwall it gets a bit tiresome. You know they are going to get there, but they keep getting delayed, and the delays keep getting more tiresome. The film does have a nice ending. It just takes a little too long to get there. This film does run a bit longer than the average length of an animated film. This film rates a C+.
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