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Arthur Christmas is cute, but just too long

SHANA SCHWARZ ~ SPECIAL FOR THE FOOTHILLS FOCUS~ 11/23/2011

Kids love a good movie about Santa Claus delivering presents on Christmas Eve. And luckily, Arthur Christmas is a good movie about just that, which sadly got eaten by a longer movie. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m a fan of the trend in animated film making today that has caused studios to add things into movie for the parents to enjoy, and this movie has plenty of that (I mean, unless little kids are going to get a joke about the Cuban Missile Crisis). But trying to keep children invested in a movie that fell just short of two hours (including the Justin Beiber music video that came before it, Heaven help us) is nearly impossible, even when you’ve got several different Santa-type characters flying around constantly, and elves along to help.
The movie is well-voiced and nicely put together, but it really does drag in the middle and towards the end. The reason many Disney movies are so well-loved by kids is that they don’t spend more time than they need to on anyone scene. Have you ever put on a Disney movie like Beauty and the Beast, gotten up to grab a snack, and realized that you missed half the movie while you were away? Ok, that might not be quite true, but it feels like that sometime, because makers of quality children’s entertainment know one simple fact: children have short attention spans. My kid certainly does, and judging by the restless noises that several of the children in the audience were making, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in struggling to get my daughter to just sit still, even armed with popcorn and sugary drinks.
In case you are wondering, this movie is not affiliated with the Arthur series of children’s books about the lovable aardvark, nor does it involve any of the Dudley Moore/Russell Brand incarnations of lovable drunk Arthur Bach. It’s just a sweet, funny movie about Santa, his two sons, Grandsanta, and a little girl who gets missed during the annual giving of the gifts. It gives new and fun answers to the question about how Santa can possibly make it to every household in one night (hint: he has some help), and also reminds us all how important it is to make someone happy, and that every child counts. I don’t think kids under 4 or 5 will be able to sit through it, but I could be off. Maybe if you tell your kiddos that Santa is looking at them through the screen and taking notes, you’ll have better luck than I did. Shoot- why didn’t I think of that earlier?