Another Christmas movie, and it’s on Netflix. This time we’re talking about a boy called Christmas. Will this become a new holiday favorite?
A Boy Called Christmas Review
An ordinary young boy called Nikolas sets out on an adventure into the snowy north in search of his father who is on a quest to discover the fabled village of the elves.
So this follows the familiar structure of many holiday fairy tale stories where we have a story being told, and as this happens, the world comes to life around us. As the narrator speaks.
This time, our narrator is Maggie Smith, who’s telling the story to her great-niece and nephews, and they’ve experienced a huge sadness in their life and now don’t really have it in them to celebrate Christmas.
The way the narration works is similar to The Princess Bride, where occasionally the kids being read to will interrupt the story to raise an objection or ask a question, which then immediately pulls us as the audience back into the reality of their world.
The story being told to the children revolves around a kid named Nikolas, who lives in a very snowy shack in the Woods on the outskirts of a Kingdom that has lost all of its joy.
Right from the start, we can see how this story is mirroring the lives of the kids that Maggie Smith is telling the tale to. And it’s not that they live in a shack in the middle of nowhere, but that hope and joy have been greatly diminished with the possibility that they’ll never come again.
This is a pretty dark story, even though it’s wrapped in a cutesy package. So we have Nikolas and he looks a bit like an elf. His dad is played by Michiel Huisman, and he’s good for what he’s in, but it’s not much.
Nikolas’s aunt comes to stay with him as the dad goes to find the elf village, and she’s played by Kristen Wiig.
The comedy they wrote for her doesn’t totally connect, and it comes across more awkward than funny, disturbing, or even mean, and any of those would have worked more appropriately than the awkwardness her character has.
As Nikolas sets out one day to find his dad, he encountered some difficulties, which are really just plot conveniences designed to get us to the central plot faster, and they do their job effectively.
There’s a lot of CGI employed in the show, and most of the time it is a bit dodgy, but one thing that I didn’t mind being just OK was this mouse that Nicholas saves and then makes as its pet. It’s cute and the expressions are endearing, and then later on the mouse becomes somewhat funny.
There’s also a portion where a narrative is being told by Nikolas’s dad and the animation that they use to illustrate is simple, but it’s effective and beautiful.
Nikolas encounters a bunch of characters along his journey to find his dad. And while I liked a lot of them as actors, their performances feel stiff and at times almost emotionless.
I mean, we have some really good actors here, like Sally Hawkins, Toby Jones, and Jim Broadband, but it was hard to connect with any of them, and I really blame the direction instead of the actors.
Now I mentioned that the story was a dark one, and it’s surprisingly melancholy and sad through good portions of this.
The story for the movie is based on a book by Matt Haig, and because I’ve not read it, I can’t speak to whether or not they’re dark as well, and some of the plot decisions are overly and maybe even unnecessarily sad, even though they help to propel the story forward. I think a lot of his dark tone could be thanks to the director.
I mean, the guy that directed this, his name is Gil Kenan. He also directed the animated horror monster House.
That one is billed as kids and family movie, and it is a terribly dark story, so knowing that this one makes more sense than it would take on a foreboding tone.
I do like that this overall story is kind of an origin for Santa Claus. And just because I’ve said how dark this is, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any whimsy or fun to be had.
There is some of that, and even sometimes the story made me chuckle. But on the whole, it was more of a Downer experience than one where I was feeling uplifted.
But all that said the ending did give me goosebumps and maybe even a slight tear because there are some touching moments that are hidden within the sadness.
Now the story as a whole is fairly predictable, but for kids, I don’t think that’s going to be a big deal.
And I also think that there’s enough action that’s thrown in to keep all of the Littles fairly engaged. I mean, We have chases through the snow, fireworks and small explosions, some mythical creatures, and even some cute animals and all those worked together to give some excitement, although they’re not a constant presence throughout the movie.
Now I’ve got to commend the filmmakers on some of their scene transitions. They’re creatively done, even if they’re sometimes abrupt.
Like we’ll see an ax swing up, getting ready to chop something and when it comes down, the setting has changed as has the thing that was about to be chopped.
The movie doesn’t overuse this technique, but it’s also done enough to make it a thing and jaunt just some one-off gimmick.
I mentioned how the action could keep the Littles excited, but the thing that is always working against that is the pace of this movie.
For the most part, it feels slower and longer than it actually is. I think some of that is the writing, and then a lot of it is how the actors are directed to perform.
But even then, the story is kind of ill-defined at portions with some character motivations being too vague or uninteresting, which then makes the hour and 46 minutes runtime drag.
So overall, A Boy Called Christmas is a mixed bag for me. While I liked what the story was ultimately setting up, the tone of the film is not too appealing, and when that’s combined with characters who aren’t fleshed out and motivations that are vague at best, it’s hard to want to recommend this one.
I think kids can get some enjoyment from the action that happens and even some of the animal characters, but I also think ultimately that they may get bored because the pace drags an action alone isn’t enough to hold their attention, especially when it’s only sporadically part of the narrative.
The CGI is passable and the comedy is only so so. But it’s not enough to lift the spirits of this so that it didn’t sit for so long in the melancholy.
I wanted to like this more, and I really do believe the story has some good potential because otherwise, I wouldn’t have teared up towards the end, but that took a lot of concentration and willpower to stay invested all the way through.
There’s no sex, nudity, or profanity, but there is some violence.
So I am going to give A Boy Called Christmas a C.
Have you added any new holiday titles to your yearly watching? I’d love to know what’s made it into your rotation. Let me know in the comments below.
Guys thank you so much as always for reading the review of A Boy Called Christmas. See you next time with another movie review.
A Boy Called Christmas Trailer
Here is A Boy Called Christmas Trailer, the new Adventure Drama Family Christmas movie.