Starring: Henry Lawfull, Toby Jones, Sally Hawkins, Kristen Wiig, Michiel Huisman, Zoe Colletti, Stephen Merchant, Jim Broadbent, Maggie Smith, Rune Temte, Indica Watson, Rishi Kuppa, Joel Fry, Isabella O'Sullivan, Eden Lawrence, Ayomide Garrick
Review: An ordinary young boy called Nikolas (Henry Lawfull) sets out on an adventure into the snowy north in search of his father Joel (Michiel Huisman) 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 (Stephen Merchant), Nikolas soon meets his destiny.
A Boy Called Christmas, coming to US audiences via Netflix, is an imaginative Santa Claus origin story derived from the popular novel of the same name by Matt Haig. I don't know if this story really fits within the Santa Claus mythos that has been hammered into our heads since the dawn of time, but this is a fun fantasy film with an abundance of heart and an All-Star cast.
We meet a boy named Nikolas who lives with his father in the woods in medieval Finland. The King of Finland (Jim Broadbent) wants the citizens of his country to go out and search for hope; anything and everything that can bring hope to his people. Enter the mythical village of Elfhelm, where once upon a time, elves and humans co-existed harmoniously. His father is selected to go and find this place, because it is believed that if Elfhelm can be found, hope can be restored to Finland. Believing that the search party may have impure motivations for finding the elvish safe haven, Nikolas sets out on a northerly adventure of his own to find Elfhelm, which he only knows from a story that his mother used to tell him every night. What ensues is a magical adventure with elves, pixies, reindeer, talking mice, and so much more.
This movie calls on us to remember that when the Christmas season arrives, magic needs to be believed to be seen rather than seen to be believed.
The cast is led by Henry Lawfull, who does a great job as Nikolas, but the real heavy-hitters are Jim Broadbent as the King of Finland, and Maggie Smith as Aunt Ruth, who is essentially acting as a narrator telling Nikolas' story to her nieces and nephews in the present. The story shifts seamlessly from the great medieval north to the cozy present-day bedroom where Aunt Ruth is dropping some Christmas spirit on her young family members. The snowy landscapes are absolutely stunning, and Elfhelm is brought to life in a magical way that exudes Christmas. This film feels and carries itself like a prototypical Christmas fantasy adventure, and for that it absolutely fits among the many Christmas classics.
Where this movie takes a bit of convincing, is its alternative plot to how Santa Claus came to be. When we break down this story to the basics, we have a Finnish boy who travels north and finds a mythical town of elves who are all toy makers. How convenient! He also finds a reindeer in the woods that he names after Lake Blitzen (wink, wink). As the puzzle pieces all come together, it is painfully obvious as to where we'll ultimately end up. With that said, this story does so in a way that is so unconventional that it remains a worthwhile experience to see all the crazy twists and turns that get us there. This movie is fun, heartfelt, and joyous. It's handsome imagery really fits the holiday theme, and it is a great change of pace from some of the other formulaic Christmas flicks. I highly recommend that you give A Boy Called Christmas your full attention this holiday season! It's a fresh, new twist on Christmas' most iconic character!
Fun Fact: Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent and Toby Jones previously starred together in the Harry Potter franchise, as Minerva McGonagall, Horace Slughorn, and Dobby respectively.