Arthur Christmas (2011)

Arthur ChristmasReleased: November 23, 2011Directors: Sarah Smith, Barry CookStars: James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill NighyRuntime: 97 min.

The plot of Arthur Christmas is effectively simplistic. On Christmas night at the North Pole, Santa’s youngest son looks to use his father’s high-tech operation for an urgent mission.

Arthur has a certain tenderness and he truly cares about the kids of the world; and he can’t comprehend why his fellow Claus family members don’t feel the same way. The plot flows well, but it is rather predictable, as should be expected. Kids will enjoy this funny movie, and there’s enough to love for older people. I truly adore this movie’s imagination. Each character has their own ambitions, and it’s all expressed with lots of humour. This is a great atmosphere for the Christmas season; and it works all around the year, because it’s very funny. The humour is witty, intelligent and rarely bland. The plot might drag but there’s hardly a dull moment. The characters are likeable; and they all portray good stereotypes. They’re charismatic but you might not feel the need to root for all of them. The voice talents perform handsomely. They all fit the bill; and they help make this movie a lot of fun.

This feel-good feature is flat-out funny, and it makes me want to actually give some Aardman (Chicken Run) flicks a fair chance, even if I really dislike clay-mation.

Score79/100

Hop – A film review by Daniel Prinn

Hop

Release Date: April 1, 2011

Director: Tim Hill

Stars: Russell Brand (voice), James Mardsen, Kaley Cuoco

Runtime: 95 min

Tagline: Candy, Chicks and Rock ‘n’ Roll

The creators of Despicable Me give us Hop, a blend of CGI-animation and live-action. While it is a tastier film than Despicable Me, it doesn’t have a better plot, charm, or characters.

E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) is the teenage son of the Easter Bunny (voiced by Hugh Laurie) and he will soon have that job passed down to him. Though, he doesn’t want to deliver Easter baskets to the children of the world, he really wants to become a professional drummer. He heads for the city where dreams come true, Hollywood (through a magic bunny hole). Fred O’Hare (James Mardsen) an out-of-work slacker, hits E.B. with his car. The bunny begs if he can stay with Fred for a while, and he reluctantly accepts, in hopes of it being just a dream that he’ll soon wake up from. In the process of them finding each other, they will have to find their own ways to become mature.

Hop is definitely a film that most children can enjoy, and even gave me a few laughs at the age of seventeen. The Playboy Mansion joke was pretty funny. It isn’t all charming, because I really only liked a few characters. I didn’t mind E.B., but his voice is just a little annoying – but he does offer a good message for kids, to follow your dreams and be yourself. Phil is pretty funny, though, he’s a fairly adorable little dancing chick. Fred was okay, too. The extended cameo by Hasselhoff was alright – and there was a nice pop culture reference to Knight Rider for adults, that most kids won’t understand.

The antagonists offered here make some scenes a bit crowded. There’s Fred’s family who doesn’t really believe in him (except his sister, Sam [played by Kaley Cuoco], who believes in him a little); and there’s the three Pink Berets who are the now Easter Bunny’s personal bodyguards, and are chasing after E.B. to bring him home; and then there’s a character who wants to take over as the Easter Bunny, I won’t reveal the character’s name for spoiler alert purposes, but it’s fairly obvious that they’re an antagonist from the get go.

There’s a bunch of silly rabbit play-on-word character names, like E.B. (acronym for Easter Bunny) and Fred’s last name, O’Hare.

The film stars James Mardsen, Kaley Cuoco, Elizabeth Perkins, Gary Cole, Tiffany Espensen, Chelsea Handler, David Hasselhoff; and with the voice talents of Russell Brand (which I couldn’t dub a talent, personally), Hugh Laurie, Hank Azaria and Django Marsh (as Young E.B.).

Hop offers a predictable plot, but a fairly good message for children; and many hit-and-miss characters, with some jokes even adults will enjoy. I would have liked to have enjoyed it more, but it was fairly bearable. It’s a little unfortunate that the biggest laugh for me was even before the film began, with two minions from Despicable Me doing a brief hilarious antic. It’s a film that I wouldn’t recommend to go out of your way to see, but it may be worth the watch if you caught it on TV. And it could make for a good Easter basket stuffer if you have kids.

55/100