Christmas goes corporate- but not for long

Review: Arthur Christmas 3D (U.) Directed by Sarah Smith. Featuring voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, and Ashley Jensen. 97 mins ****.

Christmas movies arrive earlier each year but releasing a big Christmas animation in mid-November might suggest a lack of faith. Despite their small screen dominance, national treasures Aardman Animation have struggled on the big screen, but this could be the one to really get them going.

Aardman knows not to overdo it with the sugar and get the kids over excited. Though, ultimately, the film delivers all the sentiment and uplift you’d want of a Christmas film, it makes you wait for it. The premise – that operations at the North Pole have gone from being a small family business to a large unfeeling multinational – is actually rather unpleasant. It isn’t until the moment when Santa’s idiot child Arthur and retired Grandpa Santa unveil the traditional sleigh and reindeers to save Christmas that the film takes off.

It doesn’t match the heights of the best Pixar – it isn’t that funny and the plot is thin and over-extended. But it is fun and contains two or three moments of absolute enchantment.