A boy embarks on a magical adventure that sows the seeds for a life of gift-giving in A Boy Called Christmas.
In a cabin in the snowy woods, Nikolas (Henry Lawfull) lives with his father, Joel (Michiel Huisman). Joel is called off in service to their King (Jim Broadbent) to find the magical Elf village known as Elfhelm and return with some hope to bring their struggling Kingdom back to prosperity. Nikolas is left behind in the care of his horrible aunt (Kristen Wiig), so it doesn’t take long before he follows his father on the quest with his talking pet mouse Miika (Stephen Merchant). On the journey, the pair meet many a magical character, both friend and foe, as they fight to restore hope to their home and the home of the Elves while learning valuable life lessons about friendship, family, love, and loss.
A Boy Called Christmas imagines Santa Claus’s origin story as a magical fantasy film loosely following the classic Hero’s Journey formula. It’s a proven formula that works every time in movies like these, with the execution and character development the defining factors of whether the film is enjoyable or not. The character development works well here, but the film suffers from cramming too much plot and possibly one-too-many characters to allow the audience to become attached to Nikolas and friends. Despite this, the film is entertaining and still features a genuine heart-wrenching moment that makes up for its shortcomings.
Ultimately, A Boy Called Christmas is all about the underlying messages children can absorb, of which this film has many. Director Gil Kenan manages to embed many of the themes viewers have come to expect in a Christmas movie, mostly revolving around family and what it means to lose someone. These are valuable lessons for a younger audience, and in that regard, it hits the mark. There’s not much in it for adults, though Stephen Merchant’s quippy mouse character does deliver some cleverly-timed one-liners that a mature audience will appreciate.
A Boy Called Christmas features excellent production design, an impressive cast, and a story that a younger audience can get behind. It’s a relatively unique entry to the massive pile of Christmas movies, though it’s not likely to make a significant impact.
Maggie Smith and Jim Broadbent previously starred together in the Harry Potter franchise.