29th Nov2021

‘A Boy Called Christmas’ Review (Sky Original)

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Henry Lawfull, Maggie Smith, Joel Fry, Michiel Huisman, Jim Broadbent, Kristen Wiig, Stephen Merchant, Toby Jones, Sally Hawkins | Written by Gil Kenan, Ol Parker | Directed by Gil Kenan

A Boy Called Christmas is Sky’s latest Christmas offering that aims to tell a slightly different Father Christmas origin story than most…

When his father leaves for several months to discover the fabled village of Elfhelm that his mother always told him about, Nikolas sets out to find him along him with his pet mouse and trusty reindeer. With the story being told by an aunt to her nieces and nephews who we see in frequent intervals throughout the movie.

My initial interest in A Boy Called Christmas (other than it being a new Christmas movie) was the varied and awesome cast. This cast includes Maggie Smith, Joel Fry, Michiel Huisman, Jim Broadbent, Kristen Wiig, Stephen Merchant, Toby Jones and Sally Hawkins. What a line-up!

Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of good performances among the group. Sally Hawkins may be a little underused in her role – she just doesn’t get enough screen time – but she seems to be having fun in the unlikely role as villain, Stephen Merchant delivers the funniest lines as the CGI mouse, Jim Broadbent is ever reliable in a similar role in which he plays often and Toby Jones is as great as ever. Unfortunately Kristen Wiig is in little more than a cameo in a role that is unlike anything I’ve seen her play before.

Newcomer Henry Lawfull (only his second ever role) plays Nikolas. And he shows plenty of charm to make the well known character as likeable as he should be.

Somehow, even with the story and settings, A Boy Called Christmas didn’t feel as Christmassy as I wanted to. And this is a big thing for me and Christmas movies. I think part of it is because it’s an origin movie, so Santa obviously isn’t the Santa you expect to see and there’s not really the decorations, music and other festive traditions (there is a lot of snow though). The filmmakers clearly realise this and try to get around it with having the modern day setting for the storytelling (here we see a snow-covered street with each house covered in decorations and lights) and the setting of Elfhelm which is partly Christmassy. I did very much enjoy the start of Santa’s workshop scene and that’s not the only scene that brings a big smile on your face. Non more so than the very Christmas movie happy ending.

The CGI should be noted too because there seems to be complaints every time it’s done badly. But in A Boy Called Christmas the CGI characters (mainly the mouse) run smoothly alongside real-life characters in many scenes and in perhaps the biggest use of CGI we see a giant troll try to eat Nikolas and it looks great. The whole snow-covered Elfhelm setting looks fantastic too.

Opting to make a film that is as much of a fantasy movie that you always see on TV at Christmas (think The Chronicles of Narnia) as it is an actual Christmas film, becomes both a positive and a negative. Those looking for a new Christmas movie to watch every year might be slightly disappointed. But those not so worried about that will enjoy a very watchable and enjoyable fantasy family movie.

*** 3/5

A Boy Called Christmas is available via Sky and Now TV now.


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