Operation Christmas!

[Rating: 4.5]

Director: Sarah Smith

Voice-Over By: Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, James McAvoy, Bill Nighy

Genre: Animation
Synopsis: The animated family comedy Arthur Christmas, an Aardman Production for Sony Pictures Animation, at last reveals the incredible, never-before seen answer to every child`s question: "So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?" The answer: Santa`s exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole. But at the heart of the film is a story with the ingredients of a Christmas classic – a family in a state of comic dysfunction and an unlikely hero, Arthur, with an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns.
Review: As children, we all believed in fantasy and magic and age cruelly whipped reality in our face as our Santas and Tooth Fairies melted away to reveal them to be none other than our parents. So, how would it be to know that the sweet old man we know as Santa Claus does exist and lives somewhere up there amidst glaciers and snow-capped mountains in the North Pole beyond the Arctic Sea? Ever wonder how he manages to take care of everyone’s wishlist every single year and delivers all the gifts in one night? Enter Santa "Malcolm" Claus (voice over by Jim Broadbent) the reigning Santa Claus whose forefathers were all Santas by profession as is the legacy of the Claus family. Malcolm Claus has two sons, a barrel-chested Steve (Hugh Laurie) who likes to have everything under his control and Arthur (James McAvoy), a meek boy who believes his father is an angel in disguise, a person who would never break a child’s heart.

Like soldiers in a military camp, all of Santa’s elves are trained by Steve Claus. Using the latest high-end technology from an airplane to a GPS system that guides them to every house on every city in each country, they perfect their deliveries. And yet the perfect operation goes hay-wire when a single delivery to a small child fails. Every story needs a happily ever after, for we are conditioned to look at life with rose-tinted glasses and believe that an out-of-control situation can also be brought down to normalcy awaiting the happy ending.This story is about Gwen who lives in Cornwall, England; and who wishes for a bicycle, but lo and behold, due to a technological glitch, is the only one left from the exponential population in the whole world.

Introducing Grand Santa (Bill Nighy), the very frail 136 year-old ex-Santa Claus who steps in when his son is tired from a whole night’s work (Christmas Eve) and his elder grandson doesn’t care much about emotions as much as he does about his impeccable operation. And who should have carried the word of the left out present but Arthur himself! Arthur, helps his father answer all the letters that arrive with the wishlist and instantly creates an emotional bond with all the kids writing in. Perhaps, it runs in his blood. When all else fails and Gwen’s present is still at the North Pole, Grand Santa, his old reindeer, Arthur and an elf embark on this journey across the world in two hours to deliver Gwen’s present before day break. The beauty yet splendid simplicity with which this was handled was heart-warming. They use the age-old method, Jingle All The Way on a sleigh pulled by reindeer to deliver the present amalgamated with loads of adventure. The sleigh in question, namely Eve, was scrapped long ago when Grand Santa retired from his role due to an unprecedented mishap leaving him embittered about the new age method his son and grandson use to deliver all those presents.

This endearing film brought to us by Aardman Productions will go a long way to become one of the Christmas DVD collectibles unlike the many that come and go without any moral at the end of the story. It speaks about family, bonding, courage and most importantly hope. There are some funny moments in this film that had me in splits and most of them were encountered with Arthur and Grand Santa onscreen. Malcolm Claus also realized what his younger son was truly worth. My favourite moment was Grand Santa’s pet reindeer getting motivated to take the sleigh forward when all the other reindeer got lost in the way. But it was heart-wrenching when Eve was destroyed after being mistaken for an alien-craft. Finally, Arthur Claus becomes Santa Claus restoring a lot of faith in Santa’s existence. There is only a tad-bit of a problem, parents must be careful what they communicate to their toddlers. It goes a long way. Although the film was a treat in 3D, a 2D is also not a very bad idea because it is the feeling not the effect that matters in a well told story. Sarah Smith, known for her expertise with dark comedy has done an impressive job directing and co-writing this one. 
With the Christmas magic restored in me, I am all set to be tucked in with a nice fantasy novel and a mug of hot chocolate in my hand. I am happy, and so are all the inhabitants of the North Pole.

Verdict: Re-live the Christmas magic with Arthur’s emotional journey into becoming Santa Claus.

Saumya Sharma

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