Do you get the same sinking feeling that I do when you hear the words “Sky” and “Original”? Those two words honestly feel like the kiss of death to me. I can’t say the same for their original series (Chernobyl being a prime example) but their movies? Ugh. I can literally count the Sky Original movies that I’ve actually enjoyed on one hand. Less than one hand, even. There’s just something about them that never feels quite successful. But how did this one fare in the grand scheme of things?
Yes, even Sky are on an annual Christmas kick. A Boy Called Christmas is their latest original film, with an all-star cast (Maggie Smith, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent) to boot. The film attempts to portray “the true meaning of Christmas” (yes, that old chestnut), and follows an ordinary young boy named Nikolas on his search for the fabled town of “Elfhelm”, where Santa’s elves supposedly live. Nikolas makes some friends in the form of a reindeer and little mouse on the way, and soon begins to learn that nothing is impossible.
Holy fuck this child is annoying. I mean, I don’t love kids at the best of times, and I’m sure Henry Lawfull is absolutely fine in real life as far as kids go, but God. What an annoying child.
The overarching feeling I got from this movie was what a phenomenal waste of an overqualified cast it is. I could listen to Maggie Smith narrate all day and yet she’s barely utilised. Sally Hawkins delivers her lines with gusto yet doesn’t turn up until halfway through the movie. And why bother even hiring Jim Broadbent if you’re going to give him five minutes of screen time? At least Stephen Merchant excels as a CGI mouse… I guess?
Thankfully, there are one or two moments story-wise that charm and delight, and in fact really do embody the spirit of Christmas. Making the reindeer fly for the first time is probably the best example of that. However, the whole narrative is way too convoluted and it makes the film far too long. I definitely get what they were going for, but will A Boy Called Christmas adequately entertain kids for the full 100 minutes? I highly doubt it.
What was most successful were the costumes and the sets. There’s a lot of detail going on, especially on the clothing side of things, and it all makes for some really good visuals. Whoever was behind those deserves some high praise indeed. And whilst the CGI was sometimes a little clunky, some of the landscapes were really magical to look at. Visually, I’d say that this really isn’t all that terrible.
As a whole, actually, A Boy Called Christmas is not the worst way to spend an evening. Sure, I have a bunch of gripes with it but it’s all in good fun. The first half is definitely more of a 2 star affair, but the second half saw a marked improvement.
A Boy Called Christmas is available to stream on Sky Cinema and Now TV.
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