Arthur Christmas

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Arthur Christmas Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Fabulous, funny holiday movie about the Christmas spirit.
  • PG
  • 2011
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 42 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 30 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids will learn about the English tradition of "Father Christmas" and will briefly see how Christmas is celebrated around the world when Arthur and Grandsanta make their way to England in search of one little girl.

Positive Messages

Arthur's story is an example of how one person can really make a difference and why families should work together. Arthur and Bryony also exemplify rising to the occasion and overcoming fears. Christmas, the movie suggests, is about the joy of feeling of loved and appreciated. There's also a worthwhile message about finding a balance between technology and tradition, especially during the holidays.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Arthur is a wonderful example of someone who rises to the occasion to fight for what he believes in, overcome his fears, and help others. He's generous and kind and believes every child deserves to feel special and loved for Christmas. Grandsanta starts out acting selfishly but redeems himself toward the end of the movie, as do the other adult characters.

Violence & Scariness

An encounter with wild animals in Africa could frighten younger viewers; the lions look especially ready to pounce. A dog is another formidable obstacle to delivering a gift. In one scene, a homeowner gets out of his house and fires a gun at Arthur, Grandsanta, and Bryony, mistaking them for aliens; in another, missiles are fired at Grandsanta's sleigh, and it bursts into flames. Some of the sleigh rides themselves are a little perilous, especially when the police are involved, and there's a fair bit of military flavor to some of the goings-on. Physical comedy gags include clumsy Arthur always falling and tripping into things, being afraid of heights, and otherwise wreaking havoc on the elves' world.

Sexy Stuff

The word "hell" is said. Grandsanta pokes fun at this son, Father Christmas, by using some clever nicknames.


Steve's Santa suit is designed by Versace; Google Earth is mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Grandsanta looks tipsy and recalls when he gave an elf a "double whiskey" to forget about something. There's also a scene in his room where viewers see him near lots of alcohol bottles, but he's never seen drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Arthur Christmas is a heartwarming animated holiday adventure that's a fine pick for the entire family. One brief scene of a group of startled wild animals and another of an angry homeowner wielding a gun may frighten very young kids, and there are a few jokes targeting parents -- like when Grandsanta explains that "in the old days," he once gave a double whiskey to an elf. But otherwise this movie from the British animators behind Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit provides a good reminder of the holiday spirit, family unity, and being generous. Families that don't celebrate Christmas should know that the story doesn't have any religious overtones; the emphasis remains on Santa and his family.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 and 9-year-old Written bymichvc December 26, 2018

Several sexist/classist remarks make this a pass for our family.

The movie itself is ok, typical story line, good message about perseverance, etc. But here are some quotes, not direct. "And I want to thank Mrs. Claus, w... Continue reading
Adult Written bySaff H. December 3, 2016

Sexist and racist undertones

Sexist comments and racial stereotyping throughout the film ruined it for me and my 13 year old daughter. Don't watch.
Kid, 5 years old January 6, 2021
This is a fine movie. My mum and dad explained it is just a film and that is not really how Santa delivers presents.
Teen, 14 years old Written byMarzedith December 17, 2020

Good film I love it

I dont really get some of the parents' reviews because I get the mentions of sexism because the main characters are mainly white men and mrs claus doesnt g... Continue reading

What's the story?

In ARTHUR CHRISTMAS, Santa (voiced by Jim Broadbent) -- aka Malcolm "Father" Christmas -- is executing a state-of-the-art "gift drop" around the world, with his son and heir apparent, Steve (Hugh Laurie), running what he thinks is his father's final global delivery. With scores of elves acting like stealth gift ninjas, Santa returns to the North Pole on his spacecraft thinking it's "Mission Accomplished." But when the cleaning elves discover an undelivered gift, kindly younger son Arthur (James McAvoy) joins a covert rescue mission with his Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) and gift-wrapping elf Bryony (Ashley Jensen) to get the pink bicycle with training wheels to its rightful owner in Cornwall, England. Unfortunately for the easily scared Arthur, Grandsanta only knows how to lead an ancient sleigh with out-of-practice reindeer, so the trip is bumpier than anyone envisioned.

Is it any good?

This is one of those special family movies that's equally entertaining for adults and children. Aardman -- the English studio responsible for Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run, and Flushed Away -- returns to the big screen with another winning animated comedy in Arthur Christmas that combines brilliant visuals, a well-developed story, and clever humor that's sophisticated but not completely aimed at parents. McAvoy is adorable as the voice of Arthur, who's so genuinely giving and caught up in his father's magical gift-giving that he's willing to risk everything to make sure one little girl doesn't wake up Christmas morning and think Santa doesn't care about her.

The relationship between Arthur and his Grandsanta is hilarious. Arthur is earnest and kind, while Grandsanta is as snarky as only a senior can be -- bitter because his son and grandson no longer think he's capable. As the two Christmas men and their stowaway elf trek around the globe with a decreasing number of able-bodied reindeer, the audience realizes that the trip itself is a gift for each member of the wacky trio. All three learn something about themselves and find the spirit of Christmas within to carry out their seemingly doomed adventure to reach Cornwall by Christmas morning. Like the Christmas clan, everyone could do with a reminder about the importance of family and selflessness each holiday season.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Arthur Christmas fits into the genre of holiday movies. How is this story different than other Santa-based movies? Is it confusing to see a movie about Santa's personal family in the North Pole?

  • What are the movie's messages about both family and the holidays? What do the characters learn over the course of the movie?

  • Some of the movie's jokes are aimed directly at adults; do you think too much of the humor is "grown up," or will kids enjoy it as well? Why do you think filmmakers might include jokes that will go over kids' head in movies that are made for them?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

Themes & Topics

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