A Boy Called Christmas is based on the book written by Matt Haig and directed by Gil Kenan. The cast includes Maggie Smith, Henry Lawfull, Kristen Wiig and Michiel Huisman.
– A Boy Called Christmas review does not contain any spoilers –
A Boy Called Christmas-The Plot is a Wonderful Medley of Lemony Snicket and Klaus
Maggie Smith is terrific as Aunt Ruth, both in her modern-day incarnation and when she becomes Nana in the past. She has incredible comic timing and is just wonderful with children; in fact, there’s something rather lovely about this whole movie. It’s not easy to make a film that pleases both children and adults. This one does. And then some.
The scenes set in the modern-day are full of charming detail. There’s more than a whiff of social commentary here, but don’t worry, it’s not heavy-handed; this is a family film, after all. The absolute joy of A Boy Called Christmas is watching Nikolas as he grows from strength to strength.
The film feels like many great stories rolling into one big tale, and director Gil Kenan is proud with dazzling visuals and colourful characters.
The Definitive History of Santa Claus- A Boy Called Christmas
With an innocent readjustment of perspective, A Boy Called Christmas does something rather super. It takes the mythical aspects of Santa at face value and then builds them into an entire movie around that premise. Like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, it’s set in a world where the magic is perfectly plausible.
The film focuses on Nikolas’s determination to find his dad because he believes that he will get enough money to help his woodcutter father if he does so. This means that Nikolas has to get to Elfhelm first.
The animation is beautiful, particularly in the way it adapts to time and place. The drawings are rough at the beginning, then become more storybook-like with a glamorous European feel. Later they become more stylised, with a sort of art deco look. It’s not the sort of thing you’d be able to film with real actors, but it works here.
What makes A Boy Called Christmas stand apart?
The film’s strength is in its performance of the poignancy of Christmas, with Nikolas realising that, for all his father’s efforts, the whole town’s been hoping for a miracle. In a compelling moment, he asks them why they need a miracle.
In this respect, the casting decision to have an amateur play Nikolas is a stroke of genius. He plays an empathetic but fairly typical child who only starts believing in Santa Claus when he sees a magic sleigh ride through the sky. And while the other characters use magic and myth to explain what they cannot explain rationally, Nikolas uses logic and rational thought. This perhaps makes him more relatable to adults than other child protagonists in similar movies.
Headstrong Nikolas delivers his brand of Christmas spirit by finding Elfhelm and demanding to speak to Santa Claus himself. He requires proof from the elves that they know who he is. He uses his smarts and common sense to make his own decisions about what is real and what is not, and it’s a refreshing change from other children in similar plots who are either swayed by magic.
A Full Palette of Tales in A Boy Called Christmas
Probably the best thing about this film is that it’s never saccharine or cloying. The director doesn’t rely on the audience being swept along by the action but instead earns it by giving us interesting characters with their flaws and personalities, trying to do the right thing where they can. There are no villains here, just people trying to get on with life in harsh times.
The story itself is a bit of a mishmash, jumping from one plot point to the next without the narrative cohesion you’d find in a more traditional Christmas movie. The film’s greatest strength isn’t its story, but its charm – thanks to the actors who play Nikolas and his younger sister.
In these days of CGI, it’s a joy to see a movie that still has a strong sense of old school craftsmanship – with animatronics and prosthetics used to bring a whole host of magical creatures to life. The result is a visually stunning film that transports you to another world – complete with snowy forests and cutesy elves.
Stream it or Skip It?
A boy Called Christmas is a sweet, simple tale that leaves the audience with a smile on their face at the end. This feel-good movie is easy to watch and an ideal seasonal film to put on when you’re looking for something light-hearted and heartwarming.
The acting is strong across the board and provides a lot of entertainment. The cast performed very well together and brought so much personality to their roles which made this film more magical than it already was. Overall I feel like this is such a charming movie that will remain such for years to come. A Boy Called Christmas was fun, entertaining and cute – everything you need for a great festive film!
A Boy Called Christmas is streaming on Netflix.
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