Tell that to the thousands of occupants at the North Pole. If you think the hustle and bustle of the season is stressful, try preparing to deliver toys and stocking stuffers to billions of kids around the world in one night! Just how does the fat man in the red suit do it?
Well, quite frankly, he doesn’t anymore. At least, not the way we imagine he does. From flying ships complete with cloaking devices, to naughty and nice scanners that only dish out the goodies if a child has a high enough percentage of goodness, the Santa operation has moved full throttle into the 21st century. And it is all thanks to Steve Claus, heir to Santadom, the man who runs Christmas with the precision of a well oiled machine.
Amidst all this fanfare and automation though, the spirit of Christmas still glows. It lives within the heart of Santa’s youngest son, Arthur. Every year thousands of letters pour into the North Pole, and each year Arthur answers them, falling in love with each child. Christmas isn’t a job to Arthur, it is life itself.
Yes, life is good amidst the negative temperatures and bustle of the holidays. That is, until a child gets overlooked and family division sets in. Steve says one child isn’t important in the grand scheme of things, but Arthur believes that every child is important, and he’s not about to let her faith in Santa be cruelly shattered. It is up to him to save the day and get her that bike! If only he was a Santa like Grandsanta, Dad, and Steve.
Arthur isn’t an imposing figure. He’s not extremely clever. He is a bit naive and maybe just a little over the top, but this is what gives Arthur his charm. His goodness and desire to bring people together sets him apart from every other character in this movie. He doesn’t have super hero powers, he doesn’t have super human good looks, he’s not out to save the world. He just wants to help one little girl with all his heart. And he has a big heart.
Arthur is an unlikely hero. He’s the underdog. He’s compassionate, warm hearted, and good. Is he perfect? No. But he desires to help others.
The Claus brothers respond very differently to the “technical error” of a little girl being overlooked on Christmas. Steve sees a number, a statistic. A .0001 percent error. To Arthur, there is no such thing as “just a child”, and he’s willing to get out of his comfort zone in order to ensure no one is forgotten.
Unlike most Claus portrayals, this movie shows the Santa’s as being very human. They not only don’t have everlasting life, but they are fallible. Santa struggles to find when to step aside, and when to be an authority figure. Steve fights with his own ambitions. Grandsanta wants to prove that he’s still just as spry as ever and that the old Santa ways, Reindeer and all, were just as effective as this new fangled equipment. Even Arthur must fight off his own demons. Yet in the end, this family does come together, each learning to be content with who they are, and where their strengths lie.
Naughty, Not Nice
If you are looking to find the true meaning of Christmas in this movie, you’re not going to find it. While the movie does show the outpouring of the true meaning of Christmas (compassion, love, goodness, sacrifice), it does not show the real reason for the season. Christ and his birth are never mentioned. The sacrificial gift of the season comes purely from the Claus family, and not from Bible.
Aside from the focus of the season being on man instead of God, though, the movie was clean. Most of the violence in this movie is slapstick (someone runs into a tree and so on). There is a scene with lions that include explosions and teeth, but no one is mauled and everything turns out fine. Our Christmas pals also have a small run in with an old man and a shotgun, but again, nothing happens.
Language is a no. The only bad mouthing you will hear in this film constitute words like stupid, idiot, ninny, and so forth.
There is also some jokes made by Grandsanta about “Knocking someone off”, and he tells Arthur to have the decency to finish him with a rock at one point. Grandsanta also makes a reference to giving children a “dab of whisky on the lips” to keep them quiet, as well.
And to All a Good Night
I may be a sap for Christmas movies because I grew up with Rudolph and Frosty, but I know a bad one when I see it. Arthur Christmas did not fall into that category. It was a story that has the themes of a classic and the humor of a modern tale. Its hero was the unlikeliest of choices-just a goof bucket who never wanted to be cool or titled like everyone else. While the Christmas season should not crown Santa’s head, and children should understand the true story of Saint Nicholas, this movie was still fun to watch, and refreshingly clean. How rare is that?