AS all intelligent children know, Santa Claus and his team of toy elves work tirelessly throughout the year from their secret base at the North Pole.
Then as the clocks strike midnight on December 24, the great man takes to the skies in his sleigh, delivering presents to the entire world in the space of one night.
Thanks to satellite technology, we can even track his progress via the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) website.
A few Scrooges in the scientific community have cast doubt on Father Christmas’s ability to bend the laws of time.
Thankfully, Aardman, the creator of Wallace and Gromit, puts these naysayers in their place and reveals the truth about Santa’s 21st century operations in this hugely entertaining computer-animated comedy that delivers a feast of family fun for the festive season.
Arthur Christmas is a treat for the very young and the young at heart, affirming all of the wholesome messages of the holiday season without lingering too long on the rampant materialism.
At the heart of the story, co-written by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith, who also directs, is a kind and selfless young man who believes every child is important at Christmas and we are all responsible for keeping the magic alive.
Santa (voiced by Jim Broadbent) has been the figurehead of the Yuletide season for decades and he proudly oversees this year’s delivery of presents in his hi-tech spacecraft, masterminded with military precision by eldest son Steve (Hugh Laurie).
Down in the bowels of the craft, youngest son Arthur (James McAvoy) excitedly answers correspondence from the children of the world, including a young British girl called Gwen (Ramona Marquez).
A malfunction in the loading bay goes unnoticed by the elves in mission control and Gwen doesn’t receive her pink bicycle.
“Who cares about one single child?” scoffs Steve once the oversight is revealed, to stunned silence from the elves.
With time running out until Gwen’s Christmas is ruined, Arthur joins forces with Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) and wrapping elf Bryony (Ashley Jensen) to deliver Gwen’s gift using the old sleigh and a team of retired reindeers.
Arthur Christmas is festooned with loveable characters and belly laughs, from Laurie’s pompous Santa-in-waiting to Nighy’s old-timer who rejects all of these technological improvements to centuries of tradition.
“What happened to going down the chimney? Never did me any harm!”, he coughs and splutters, almost losing his false teeth.
Imelda Staunton lends her warm tones to Mrs Santa and Justin Bieber sings a suitably jolly rendition of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” over the end credits.
With December 25 only a few weeks away now, Arthur Christmas is a wonderful early present, guaranteed to have the whole family bursting with festive spirit.