Star Rating:

A Boy Called Christmas

Streaming On: Watch A Boy Called Christmas on Sky

Director: Gil Kenan

Actors: Maggie Smith, Henry Lawfull, Michiel Huisman, Jim Broadbent, Joel Fry, Kristen Wiig, Sally Hawkins, Toby Jones, Stephen Merchant

Release Date: Friday 26th November 2021

Genre(s): Adventure, Family

Running time: 103 minutes

In ‘A Boy Called Christmas’, a boy named Nikolas (Henry Lawfull) and his mouse Miika (Stephen Merchant) sets out on a journey to find Nikolas’ father, Joel (Michiel Huisman). The team tackle adventures, meet all sorts of magical creatures, and make friends, as they search for Joel and take on the quest of the King (Jim Broadbent) to bring hope back to the land.

‘A Boy Called Christmas’ is a co-production with Netflix, who have produced more holiday movies than there are twigs on a Christmas tree. Some are of middling quality, a couple have been exquisite, but most are rather poor – and the problem is that Christmas movies tend to get a free pass because otherwise the reviewer is a Scrooge, not embracing the joy of the season. Well this reviewer says when it comes to cinema, a certain standard should still be expected. So, as the latest to reinterpret the origins of the season, how does ‘A Boy Called Christmas’ fare?

Actually, quite a bit better than one would expect, though its ‘The Princess’ bride framing with Maggie Smith was probably ill advised. Smith, as always, is exquisite, her voice providing calm and warmth as the narrator of the story. It’s just a shame that the trio playing her grandchildren aren’t particularly good actors. That said, Henry Lawfull proves a charming lead, and he is the one we’re following primarily. As for Merchant, he’s very funny and has some surprisingly sentimental moments voicing Miika. Moreover there’s a magical reindeer, whom Nikolas names Blitzen, thrown in which will have the kids awed and the adults won over.

Huisman too isn’t particularly engaging or interesting (or, again, good at acting) as the woodcutter father, and the film only really picks up when Kirsten Wiig enters the scene as the wicked aunt. She’s cruel and mean, making for the perfect antagonist. Sadly though, her screen time is limited, and Sally Hawkins takes over as the baddie. Most of those who Nikolas and his rag tag team meet in any case are very friendly.

The depiction of Elfhelm, the kingdom of elves, is gorgeous and enchanting. This is again one of the stronger points in the film with Toby Jones as Father Topo an all-round lovely elven guide. Though inconsistent, there’s enough appeal, jubilance, and yes, that special thing called magic, in ‘A Boy Called Christmas’ for families to be enthralled by. It’s unlikely to get re-watched next year among the holiday classics. But then you never know.