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Arthur Christmas

Arthur Christmas is a 2011 3D computer-animated Christmas science fantasy comedy film directed by Sarah Smith and Barry Cook. Featuring the voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, and Ashley Jensen, the film is a co-production between Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman Animations. It is also Aardman's second entirely computer-animated feature film after 2006’s Flushed Away.

Set on Christmas Eve, the film centers on Arthur Claus, the clumsy but well-meaning son of Santa Claus, who discovers that his father's high-tech ship has failed to deliver one girl's present. Accompanied only by his free-spirited and reckless grandfather, an enthusiastic young Christmas elf obsessed with wrapping gifts for children, and a team of reindeer, he embarks on a mission to deliver the girl's present personally.

Plot[]

Instead of a single individual, Santa Claus is a hereditary title belonging to gift-givers that has been carried on for many generations. The current Santa, Malcolm Claus, is heading his 70th mission, but his role has largely been reduced to that of a figurehead. Although the traditional sleigh and reindeer were used in the past, they have now been replaced by the S-1, a high-tech vessel operated by hundreds of elves that use advanced equipment and military precision to deliver presents to children. The complex Christmas operations are micromanaged from a North Pole-based Mission Control by Malcolm's eldest son, Steve, who expects to be handed down the role of Santa following his father’s retirement. Meanwhile, Malcolm's younger son, Arthur, answers letters sent from children to Santa and is frequently mocked by the elves and looked down on by his family for his clumsiness.

During one of the delivery operations in Poland, a toy is accidentally activated, waking a child and nearly revealing Santa. A tense escape operation ensues, during which an elf aboard the S-1 leans on a button, causing a present to fall from the supply line and go unnoticed. Another elf named Bryony Shelfley later finds the missed present—a wrapped bicycle for a young girl named Gwen living in Trelew, Cornwall, whose letter Arthur had personally responded to. Arthur is heartbroken to hear a child’s been missed and urges his father and brother to use the S-1 and deliver the final present but Steve argues that one missed present out of billions is an acceptable error, citing this year's Christmas as the most successful in history. Malcolm's cynical elderly father and predecessor, Grandsanta, whisks Arthur away to deliver it in EVE, the original wooden sleigh that is pulled by the descendants of the flying reindeer. Bryony is revealed to have stowed away and joins the pair, but they get lost on four different continents, lose several of their reindeer and encounter many obstacles, ultimately being mistaken for aliens and causing an international military incident.

Arthur is shocked and hurt to learn that Grandsanta only agreed to go on the trip to boost his own ego, Malcolm is indifferent to the missing present, and Steve refuses to help them because he believes Arthur's efforts could undermine his attempts to become the next Santa.

Finally, stranded on an island in Cuba, Arthur becomes disillusioned with his family and nearly gives up. However, he realizes that so long as the gift is delivered one way or another, the "Santa" Arthur and Gwen look up to exists in the hearts of children. Reinvigorated, Arthur manages to get the sleigh back and the trio sets off for England. Meanwhile, the elves grow increasingly alarmed at rumors of the neglected delivery and the Clauses' indifference, sending them into a panic. In response, Malcolm tricks his wife Margaret into believing Steve gave them permission to use the S-1 to deliver Gwen’s gift, only for a furious Steve to confront his father onboard and a dejected Malcolm recognises his inability to properly lead. Steve drives the S-1 and delivers a superior present, only to realise that Malcolm had accidentally set the address to the wrong child, revealing Steve’s inability to connect with children.

Arthur’s group reach England but lose the remaining reindeer. Furthermore, a Predator drone scrambled by Chief De Silva of UNFITA intercepts and opens fire on the sleigh, believing it to be an alien spacecraft. Grandsanta sacrifices EVE, while Arthur and Bryony parachute to the ground.

All paths descend on Gwen’s house before she awakens, only to have everyone but Arthur quarrel about who gets to actually place the gift. Noticing that Arthur was the only one who genuinely cared about Gwen’s happiness, the elder Clauses collectively realize that he is the sole worthy successor. As a result, Steve recognises his own shortcomings, forfeits his birthright and acknowledges his brother's worthiness to take up the mantle, with Malcolm admitting he’s truly proud of both his sons. Gwen glimpses a snow-bearded Arthur in a wind-buffeted sweater just before he vanishes up into the S-1.

In a postscript, Malcolm goes into a happy retirement with Margaret - where he also becomes Grandsanta's much-desired new companion - and plays Arthur's board game with him for many happy hours. Meanwhile, Steve finds true contentment as the chief operating officer of the North Pole. Bryony is promoted to Vice-President of Wrapping, Pacific Division. The high-tech S-1 is rechristened EVIE in honor of Grandsanta's old sleigh and refitted to be pulled by a team of five thousand reindeer led by the original eight, all of whom have returned home safely. And at the helm, Arthur happily guides the entire enterprise as Santa Claus XXI.

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