The Santa Claus origin story in “A Boy Called Christmas” features a star-studded cast, lavish visuals, and some melancholy details to avoid being overly sweet. The vinegary Aunt Ruth, played by Dame Maggie Smith, is a last-minute babysitter for three children who are still grieving their mother.

It is Christmas Eve, and their father, played by Joel Fry, has decided that they will not celebrate the holiday this year. There won’t be any gifts or decorations. Aunt Ruth begins to tell the children a story about a boy named Nikolas (Henry Lawfull), who lived a long time ago with his father, a woodcutter named Joel (Michiel Huisman), in a remote mountain cabin in Finland.

Every night, Nikolas asks his father to tell him the story his mother used to tell, about a little girl who got lost in the woods one winter and found a community of elves who loved and protected her until the spring thaw made it possible to go home, “her pockets full of chocolates.” Nikolas is also in mourning for his mother, who was killed by a bear.

A Boy Called Christmas: Joel is one of the king’s most devoted subjects, so Jim Broadbent challenges them. He wants each of his people to go on a quest to find hope in order to restore hope to his people. In the event that it is not a fairy tale, Joel joins a group to try to locate the elves. He, like Matt, gives control to his aunt.

However, Kristen Wiig’s Aunt Charlotte—look past the crooked teeth to recognize her—doesn’t usually share a sweet bedtime tale. She also refuses to feed Nikolas or let him sleep in the cabin. She is mean and egotistical. Nikolas and Miika, wittily voiced by Stephen Merchant, go in search of his father to assist him in finding Elfhelm after discovering a clue to its location.

Their search turns into a magical journey through snow-capped mountains filled with both real and imagined obstacles. Nikolas names a reindeer after Lake Blitzen after his assistance. In addition, he has a frightening encounter with a troll and a less frightening encounter with a winged pixie who can only tell the truth and likes to set off colorful little explosives. That is where the British tradition of Christmas crackers comes from. When you pull the tab, they pop a little and open to reveal paper hats and hilarious jokes.

Lawfull carries pleasantness and conviction to his cooperations with different CGI animals, yet he’s at his best with Zoe Margaret Colletti, who has engaging shimmer as the wicked Truth Pixie. There are a few miserable minutes, including a redemptive penance, steady with the fantasy customs of genuine stakes that make the snapshots of euphoria significant. The message of kindness, courage, and, as Aunt Ruth explains, the stories that connect the universe will stick with children, and they will enjoy tracing the roots of many Christmas customs.

Granted, the concept was not invented by director Gil Kenan himself. He is working from the pages of the popular children’s book written by Matt Haig in 2015 with co-writer Ol Parker. In addition, Haig has always demonstrated a keen awareness of the unavoidable cycles of loss and grief in both his work for children and adults. There are some things that his characters are unable to escape or simply wish away, even when his worlds are filled to the brim with magic. A Boy Called Christmas, as worn out as its idea might sound on paper, shares those equivalent worries. Additionally, the film’s ability to switch between jarringly obvious expositional passages is surprising. 

In a sterile LA conference room, you can easily picture a group of over-caffeinated writers discussing this plot. A turnip doll and a field mouse named Miika, which he is certain he can speak train, are his only companions. Until a sudden discovery sets the boy on the path to reuniting with his father and discovering the elf kingdom for himself, the boy’s life is pretty pitiful.

A Boy Called Christmas is set up as a bedtime story that Maggie Smith’s always-grumpy Aunt Ruth tells three young children on Christmas Eve with wide eyes. Their father, a warm-hearted Joel Fry, is having trouble keeping the holiday spirit alive after their mother passed away as well.The children will occasionally interrupt the story, primarily so that Ruth can sass them with the razor-sharp tongue Smith is so well-known for. Watch A Boy Called Christmas on NETFLIX.

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