We weren't terribly sure what to make of the holiday movie Arthur Christmas with its impressive list of UK talent and giant Santa space ship.. But once we saw more of it, we found ourselves won over, thanks to a strong dose of clever grown-up humor.
Check out the brand new trailer, plus our thoughts on seeing the first half of the film.
Earlier this week we saw the first half of this sassy new holiday movie, Arthur Christmas, which we're dubbing a Christmas Miracle — for actually making us get excited about the done-to-death holiday movie genre.
AC has two things going for it: First, its amazing cast. James McAvoy plays Santa's moronic, pimple-faced son Arthur. Hugh Laurie is Steve, Santa's chosen son who basically runs the entire Christmas enterprise. Bill Nighy is absolutely hilarious as GrandSanta the retired Santa with a pet reindeer (who sports the cone of shame.) And Jim Broadbent rules as the absent minded current Santa. The other trick in AC's sack? A tightly knit script and rapidfire succession of jokes spat out by the cast.
Here's the basic storyline: Santa has had to upgrade his workshop tremendously to keep up with the growing population. Thanks to his son Steve and his neatly manicured Christmas tree shaped beard, the elves now pilot a massive sled-shaped rocket which has cloaking capabilities and a giant elf-run mega brain. Down the chimney is out, now hundreds of thousands of elves Mission Impossible themselves all over the world delivering presents, while a befuddled and slightly out of it Santa snores his way through the very high-tech procedure. While Santa is phoning it in, Steve is salivating over his chance to wear the evergreen crown of Saint Nick.
You see the Santa system is a lot like the monarchy (thank you Jordan Hoffman) — it's passed down from generation to generation. Steve is the next in line to wear the Santa crown, but the current Santa doesn't seem any interested in retiring even though his son is doing most of the work. There's actually a fairly realistic relationship between these two, with Santa taking credit for Steve's work and blaming him for any problems. The resentment is thick and strangely familiar, during the Claus family Christmas dinner. But then you have the bumbling, heart-of-gold Arthur who gets in everyone's way but always means well. Banished to the letters section of Santa's operation, Arthur discovers a flaw in Steve new system. They've missed a child. Cue one cantankerous GrandSanta-and-Arthur road comedy, as the two misfits try and rectify Santa's mistake (unbeknownst to the rest of the North Pole). And who doesn't love rooting for the underdog?
But, as we said earlier, the best part of this film (that we've seen) is the humor. There's chimney lube, hyper active elves, dead mice stuck inside the abandoned Santa technology, and overly clever children.
On the bad side, the characters all appear to have real life flaws, for better or for worse. Granted, this does open up Santa and GrandSanta for copious sexist remarks, for instance when Arthur exclaims that something is impossible, grandpa's go-to quip is: "They used to think it would be impossible to teach women to read." So yeah, YIKES. That's pretty terrible. But let's hope these sexist remarks and strong-arming of Mrs. Claus' abilities will all be dealt with in the end when it's later revealed that it's the lady behind the red suit that is running the show. Hopefully. If not — well, it would appear that there are a lot of sexist jerks running the North Pole.
Fingers crossed it's just a character stumbling block because just about every other part of this flick was crazy clever. And we're really looking forward to seeing more of Arthur Christmas.
Watch the trailer in HD over at Yahoo.