The origin story of Father Christmas is re-imagined in Gil Kenan’s live action A Boy Called Christmas. An ordinary young boy called Nikolas sets out on an extraordinary adventure into the snowy north in search of his father who is on a quest to discover the fabled village of the elves, Elfhelm. Taking with him a headstrong reindeer called Blitzen and a loyal pet mouse, Nikolas soon meets his destiny in this magical, comic and endearing story that proves nothing is impossible… Co-written and directed by Academy Award® nominee Gil Kenan (Monster House), A Boy Called Christmas boasts an all-star cast including Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, Harry Potter), Jim Broadbent (Paddington 1 & 2, The Iron Lady), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Paddington 1 & 2), Toby Jones (Infamous, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Michiel Huisman (The Haunting of Hill House, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Wonder Woman 1984), Zoe Colletti (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark), Stephen Merchant (Fighting with my Family, Logan) and introduces newcomer Henry Lawfull.

A Boy Called Christmas – movie review

A Boy Called Christmas is about overcoming tragedy and obstacles.

Nikolas (Henry Lawfull) is a Finnish boy who lost his beloved mother and is being raised by his woodcutter father Joel (Michiel Huisman) in a small cabin. They have little. One day, Joel receives an invitation to visit the king (Jim Broadbent). The king acknowledges the difficult times and challenges the citizens to travel to the outer edges of the kingdom to find hope. With that comes a financial reward. So Joel decides to take a trip that will see him leave Nikolas in the company of his sister, Aunt Carlota (Kristen Wiig). But the selfish Carlota treats Nikolas badly – so much so that she claims the little hut for herself and throws him out into the snow, along with his pet mouse Miika (the voice of Stephen Merchant). Things go from bad to worse, when Aunt Carlota cooks one of Nikolas’ precious gifts – a turnip doll – from his dear departed mother.

After that, Nikolas determines he will set out to search for his father. Along the way, he encounters an injured reindeer he names Blitzen. Then he heads for the hidden city of Elfhelm … as the adventure continues. Elves and a truth pixie (Zoe Colletti) play a significant part in proceedings.

An enjoyable fantasy, A Boy Named Christmas features the considerable talents of Dame Maggie Smith (as Aunt Ruth) who weaves a mean tale with expert delivery. Lawfull is a breath of fresh air in his first feature film role as the youngster who never stops believing. Merchant is a prized choice as the vocal talent for mouse Miika. He’s gifted some choice one-liners, which he delivers with aplomb.

The script is the work of co-writer (and director) Gil Kenan alongside Ol Parker. The life lesson is about sticking to principles of decency in the wake of adversity. It’s realised with a mixture of good humour, fear and fearlessness.

A Boy Called Christmas is well pitched at a family audience and the littlies I saw it with seemed absorbed. They kept quiet during the screening, which is a good sign.

Alex First


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