- Hamish Hart
A Boy Called Christmas (2021) Review
Updated: Jan 1, 2022
PRESENTS surround trees and joy is spread all around, which must mean one thing - Christmas. The most wonderful time of year has always had a synonymous relationship with cinema, with many films centring around the holiday season performing both critically and financially well, and Netflix's latest Christmas flick is no different.
In a blissful origin story of Father Christmas, a young Nikolas (Henry Lawfull) sets out on a journey for his father Joel (Michiel Huisman) who is searching for a fabled Elven village. With the help of his newfound reindeer and mouse friends, Nikolas realises this journey was not by chance, but one of fate as his destiny is revealed.
Director Gil Kenan has been responsible for some of the most ambitious and polarising films in recent years, with 2006's Monster House being his magnum opus by obtaining a cult following since its release 15 years ago. Kenan's signature style of abstract characters and quirky world building is plastered all over A Boy Called Christmas, making the magic of Christmas present itself in a unique manner only befitting such a magical holiday.
The busy streets of London and awe-inspiring mountain ranges of the Czech Republic make near-perfect filming locations, capturing the magic of Christmas through the snowy ranges of Czech's "Devil's Head". The film's beauty, however, is one of few things that carry A Boy Called Christmas as, unfortunately, much of this holiday flick is a repetitive, sluggish affair that only serves to tell the same story that's been told countless times. But considering the release date for this movie, and that no one will watch it at any other time besides Christmas, its replicated story can be forgiven (barely).
I was taken back by the amount of star power featured in Kenan's Christmas tale considering many are relegated to being secondary characters. Maggie Smith provides canonical narration for much of the film, allowing audiences to engage themselves further into the world by way of Smith's collected and elegant vocals; a perfect choice for a storyteller. Kristen Wiig plays the roles of an abusive Aunt who, despite playing a somewhat important role in the beginning, is criminally underutilised for the rest of Nikolas' adventure and could have been used in a more effective way considering she was, arguably, the best actor in the film. But when talking about performances, you can't overlook our lead Henry Lawfull. Despite this being only his second career role, the 15 year-old does a remarkable job playing the soon-to-be Santa, expressing sincere moments of anguish, guilt and happiness in order to immerse himself into this mystical journey. If he can keep this kind of momentum going, Henry Lawfull is certainly a young actor to keep an eye on in the coming years.
A Boy Called Christmas may be as predictable as day to night, but sometimes predictability isn't a vice; if anything, it's a virtue. This Christmas flick takes viewers on a heart-warming adventure filled with enough magical twists and turns to keep any family member engaged from beginning to end, and on top of meaningful life messages and genuine humour, A Boy Called Christmas is definitely a movie to put on your list this festive season. Merry Christmas <3.