Alamo Kids' Camp:
The worst thing I can say about this sweet little slice of holiday cheer is that it is preceded by evil incarnate: a Justin Bieber music video. Happily, once Bieber scuttles offscreen and the Aardman Animation (Wallace & Gromit
, Chicken Run
) titles come up, you're in good, competent, and refreshingly funny hands. Arthur Christmas
is an inspired take on the hoary clichés of the Santasploitation genre. This time, Aardman has left its trademark Plasticine stop-motion designs behind in favor of CGI and 3-D techniques, both of which turn out to work splendidly in the service of a very Aardman take on the notion of what it means to be Santa (voiced here by Broadbent) and the perils (and perhaps inevitability) of taking one's profession for granted, no matter how special, magical, or outrageously awesome it may be. If you can get past the Bieber, this is smart, funny stuff. Read a full review of Arthur Christmas.