ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (Probably G): This UK-based Aardman production, made for Sony Pictures Animation, finally solves the never-ending question, "How does Santa Claus deliver all those presents around the world in one night?" Simple: he uses high-tech equipment in his gigantic North Pole Mission Control, utilizing a massive hi-tech flying saucer in lieu of his sleigh & reindeer, and with the right cooperation, it's a snap.
Until, that is, Santa's son Arthur discovers that one gift, a small girl's bicycle, has been left behind, and causes a rumpus when he demands that one more trip is necessary to avoid making her holiday a bust.
Santa's older son, Steve, who is geared in line for the big job in another year, objects, but grandpa Santa, bored for having been left to a life of inactivity, accepts the chance to put the sleigh & reindeer in action once again, and they with Arthur set about to bring the gift to the little girl who lives in a small English village - asleep with dances of sugar plumsŠ
Sarah Smith & Peter Baynham's script is steeped in UK language & ambiance, and at times the machine-gun fired accents are difficult to comprehend; but the details are a wonder in & beyond the North Pole workplace, the characters' features cleverly created (all the Santa family have huge noses as their family trademark), the state-of-the-art Control Center is eye-poppingly original, and everything about this import is refreshingly free of the smutty innuendoes so popular even in children's films here while it can't help but delight both kids & parents with its originality & charm.
Director Smith has a bit of trouble getting the 100-minutes moving; it's slow getting started, but once the race against time is on, the whirlwind magic begins. Once it gets rolling, the kids will love it, and so will their parents. (Grade: B+)