Arthur Christmas

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Short takes

Parental guidance under 5 (scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Arthur Christmas
  • a review of Arthur Christmas completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 28 November 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes
Children aged 5 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Arthur Christmas
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length: 97 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Arthur Christmas is the 3D animated story of Santa Claus (voiced by Jim Broadbent) and Mrs Santa Claus (voiced by Imelda Staunton), their two sons Steve (voiced by Hugh Laurie) and Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy) and Mr Claus’s father, Grandsanta (voiced by Bill Nighy).  The family are nestled far away in the North Pole where Santa’s high tech headquarters are situated.  Christmas Eve is a finely tuned operation run predominantly by Steve, who is military trained. Many highly organised and efficient elves ensure that Santa successfully delivers Christmas gifts to every child across the world. 

As Santa faces his 70th mission, Steve and the Christmas elves anticipate that Santa will announce his retirement and the appointment of Steve as the next Santa Claus.  When Santa fails to do this, family tensions arise, particularly with Steve who feels resentful that his ongoing success as head of operations does not lead him to the big job.  Steve’s younger brother Arthur, however, is unconcerned and is happy with his role as chief of correspondence - reading and responding to all the letters written by children. 

When the alarm is raised that a child has been missed on Santa’s last mission Steve steps up to calm the panic and assure everyone that missing one child out of millions is not a failure but rather an unavoidable accident.  He sends them all back to bed without another moment of concern.  Arthur however is horrified that a little girl will wake to no present under the tree and sets out to try to deliver the missing gift before the sun rises on Christmas morning.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Family tensions

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Grandsanta and Arthur are shot at by a man who thinks they are aliens from outer space
  • Arthur is chased by police after he enters the wrong house and sets off an alarm.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • A scene where Arthur and Grandsanta accidentally land the sleigh in the Serengeti and are attacked by some frightened lions, who growl at them, show their teeth aggressively and look as if they will eat them.  The sleigh escapes and no one is hurt.
  • A dead mouse is blown out of a trumpet

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

No additional scenes of concern

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing of concern

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Google
  • Versace
  • Sony

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Grandsanta has liquor trolley next to his armchair
  • Christmas punch at Christmas dinner
  • Reference to an elf being an alcoholic by the age of nine

Coarse language

Mild coarse language include:

  • hell
  • hell’s berries
  • ruddy

In a nutshell

Arthur Christmas is a. real family movie, a modern day Christmas tale of the Claus family, a fallible bunch with kind hearts and an extraordinary job to do. Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • being true to yourself
  • thoughtfulness and kindness

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Why was it time for Santa to retire?
  • Why was Arthur picked as the next Santa Claus rather than his ultra-efficient brother Steve? 
  • What might Gwen have felt like on Christmas Day if she awoke to no gift?
  • Arthur knew that his brother and the elves talked about him negatively but he didn’t let this bother him, or change the person he was.  How do you think he was able to do this?