Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Take it as you will: a special Christmastime treat, or a gift-wrapped cross-promotional fruitcake (um, thanks?) from Aardman's Hollywood partners.
The movie is dense with witty visual detail that helps to distract from the somewhat trumped-up moral dilemma at its center.
Everything you see in Arthur Christmas is fashioned in the service of telling a story ... brilliantly
New York Times:
The plot may be a little too cluttered for the toddler crowd to follow, but the next age group up should be amused, and the script by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith has plenty of sly jokes for grown-ups.
It would be a Christmas miracle save for one lump of coal: an ear-shattering Justin Bieber song over the end credits.
What makes Arthur sing is that it plays as much like a family comedy as a holiday film.
In her directing debut, Aardman veteran Sarah Smith and her co-writer Peter Baynham offer a fresh look at the Santa legend: a flawed Claus.
Arthur Christmas gets a little sappy toward the end -- it is a Christmas movie, after all -- but it otherwise strikes just the right combination of naughty and nice, reverent and irrelevant, holiday-sweet and Aardman dry.
It's difficult to come up with a new spin on something as established as a Christmas movie, but "Arthur Christmas" does a good job of it.
J. R. Jones,
The premise recalls those sophisticated lies parents cook up when their kids start asking logical questions about Santa.
It's good. Frantic, yes, sometimes aggressively so. There's some padding in the airborne sequences built to exploit the 3-D format. But a tender and upbeat spirit informs the writing and the execution.
Christian Science Monitor:
The action is swift and witty, and the 3-D effects are imaginative and not simply tacked on as with so many animated movies these days.
Like most of Aardman's work ... [it's] more clever than outright funny, but it's also genuinely sweet, and the complicated relations among Santa's clan are surprisingly believable
Leave it to the folks who brought us Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run and Flushed Away to bring a delightful blast of fresh air to the conventional Christmas genre.
The movie fails utterly at coming up with a story that merits all the eye candy.
The results are not only funny and fresh, but represent a new way of tackling the whole yuletide paradigm: Santa as a high-tech hereditary monarchy.
It's busy but buoyant, and it honors the tradition of giving with wit and style.
The surprise gift of the season: a sharp, savvy holiday comedy that doesn't get its laughs at the expense of those who start to glow in the early days of December. It's a most entertaining package indeed.
New York Daily News:
The North Pole Control Room may be cold but the emotions are warm, delivering sweetness when it counts.
New York Post:
An animated kiddie comedy that delivers all the wonder you'd expect in a movie about a guy delivering one package.
With a clever script that successfully updates many Christmas myths and dialogue that crackles with sophisticated wit, this movie offers the kind of pre-holiday experience that parents and children alike will appreciate.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"Arthur Christmas" stays sweet without becoming overly sentimental and is filled with sly details and smart action sequences.
Globe and Mail:
For the kids, the action is always lively and, for the rest of us, the dialogue has a witty and even caustic edge.
This kind of thing can be disastrous in the wrong hands, but Arthur Christmas maintains a sharp wit that perfectly counterbalances its lovely (and, by the end, fully earned) holiday sentimentality.
What makes this festive fantasy engaging is the savvy way in which it debunks cold efficiency in favour of more wholesome values. It's just a pity Arthur himself is so bland.
Arthur Christmas feels less insularly British than previous Aardman releases; there's plenty here for all ages and nationalities, including the sly but entirely welcome suggestion that female characters have been under-credited in previous yuletide tales.