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Things Only Adults Notice In Arthur Christmas

In 2011, Aardman and Sony Pictures teamed up to produce a computer-animated Christmas film about the clumsy yet well-meaning son of Santa Claus. "Arthur Christmas" stars James McAvoy as the voice of Arthur, along with a cast of celebrated British actors, including Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, and Imelda Staunton.

In "Arthur Christmas," viewers learn that Santa Claus is not a man but an honorary title that dates back to the days of St. Nicholas. The role of Santa has been passed down from father to son for generations, all the way until the 21st century. In this modern era, toys are delivered using a giant spaceship called the S-1, and the computer age has nearly taken over Santa's job. However, when one child's present is accidentally left behind, Arthur takes it upon himself to deliver it only hours before Christmas morning.

"Arthur Christmas" is fun-filled entertainment for the whole family and has recently begun to find its way to more and more households as a new Christmas classic. However, just as kids will love the humor and imagination of the film, adults will appreciate some of its more nuanced aspects. Here are just some details that grown-ups will notice while watching "Arthur Christmas," even if their kids don't.

The mom watching a classic TV Christmas special

In the first big sequence of "Arthur Christmas," we see how Santa and his elves deliver presents to children worldwide in the 21st century. Gone are the days of flying reindeer, a magical sleigh, and a big bag of toys — instead, the denizens of the North Pole use high-tech engineering and military precision to sneak into people's homes and leave their gifts.

One of the last stops is in Aarhus, Denmark, where a quiet Christmas Eve night is disrupted by the appearance of the giant S-1 ship and a battalion of elves. They make their way to the city below and begin their mission with impressive stealth and agility as they enter the houses. In one home, you can see a woman in her bathrobe watching a TV special from her bed while her husband snores away next to her.

Kids probably won't recognize the TV special that the mother is watching, which is the award-winning animated short film "The Snowman." Based on a children's book of the same name, "The Snowman" was released on British TV in 1982 and became an instant hit. It tells a story through music and wistful animation of a boy whose snowman comes to life and takes him on a magical adventure before finally melts the next day. Think "Frosty the Snowman," but with a more traumatic and slightly creepier ending.

Noisy toys are a menace

Between the film's Elf commandos and all of the modern gadgetry being used to deliver gifts, the role of Santa (Jim Broadbent) has been severely reduced in "Arthur Christmas." The current Santa Claus, Malcolm, is more of a figurehead than anything. Nevertheless, the elves try to make him feel important by allowing him to place a single present under the tree at the end of each mission.

In a tense moment during one of the deliveries, Santa and the elves find themselves hiding from a young boy who has woken up at an inopportune moment. It just so happens that the gift Santa had been delivering is a Quack Quack Moo Activity Farm, an interactive toy that makes farm animal noises. To hide from the boy, Santa ducks down and ends up with his head right on top of the toy's demo button. According to one of the elves at the North Pole headquarters, if he moves, the toy will moo loudly, and Santa will be discovered.

It's a scene that's both hilarious and relatable for parents who know the pains of dealing with loud and obnoxious toys. There's nothing like that feeling of dread when your kid opens the latest Tickle Me Elmo gift from Grandma, followed by a  hastily made plan to remove its batteries later when the opportunity arises. "Sorry, Timmy, you must have worn it out already!"

Is Grandsanta an alcoholic?

During the evening's excitement, Arthur decides to join a retired Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) in watching the mission on his TV. Now 136 years old, Grandsanta loves to relive his glory days, often insisting that all of this new fangled tech is no match for the old traditions from when he was Santa. Of course, most of the family tend to ignore Grandsanta's ravings, yet they still make an effort to make him comfortable during his golden years.

One detail that kids may have missed, but adults surely noticed, is the cart of booze next to Grandsanta's comfy recliner. If you look closely, you can see six bottles of whiskey on the cart, along with what appears to be several prescription bottles. It's tough to tell if the bottles are empty or full, but it's pretty concerning nonetheless. Hopefully, Grandsanta isn't mixing his medicine with alcohol, which any doctor will tell you is a bad idea.

The fact that Grandsanta has access to so much liquor makes us further question his actions in "Arthur Christmas." Did he have a few too many nips that night before deciding to commandeer the out-of-commision sleigh? Was he intoxicated while operating a magical flying vehicle? Frankly, we think it would be a good idea to give Grandsanta a breathalyzer test every so often, just to be on the safe side.

The reference to an iconic kiss

As the last of the Christmas deliveries are made, the North Pole headquarters calls the night a success, declaring "Mission Accomplished." The S-1 returns home to a massive crowd cheering deafeningly, welcoming the team back as heroes. The elves are reunited with family and friends, receiving congratulations and pats on the back for their hard work. As the camera moves through the crowd, we see two elves celebrating as one of them pulls the other one into an embrace, bending them back and kissing them.

This romantic gesture may just be another humorous moment for the kids in the audience, but most adults will probably instantly recognize the iconic image. It's from a photograph taken by photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1945, titled "V-J Day in Times Square." The original photo shows a Navy sailor kissing a woman in white in the middle of Times Square, in celebration of the American victory over Japan during World War 2. To this day, the image has been parodied in a large number of movies and TV shows, including "The Simpsons."

Peter the elf is in love with Steve

Although Malcolm may hold the title of Santa, it's clear who runs the show at the North Pole in "Arthur Christmas." Steve Claus (Hugh Laurie) runs a tight ship, controlling everything from the North Pole headquarters to the S-1. Though he doesn't wear the big red suit himself, he's clearly the boss, and everyone refers to Steve on the most important matters of gift delivery.

An elf named Peter (Marc Wootton) barely leaves Steve's side in "Arthur Christmas." At first, Peter appears to be a simple suck-up to the Santa heir apparent, but as things progress, adults will realize that it may be a little bit more complicated than that. The first big clue we get is when Peter gifts Steve with a pair of boxers covered in giant Christmas trees and the letter S, in addition to having the words "I Believe In Steve" written on the waistband. The S stands for Santa, or so Peter tells him. Later, during the family's Christmas Eve dinner, Steve is vetting texts from Peter on his phone, with one that reads that he is "still up." The clincher happens when there is a blackout at the North Pole, and we can hear Steve telling Peter to let go of his hand.

There's sucking up, and then there is hopelessly vying for affection, and Peter is definitely the latter. Whether it's just a crush on his boss or true unrequited love is difficult to say, but we can't help but feel sorry for the guy, since Steve is just not that into him.

The dog getting overly friendly with Arthur's slipper

After a harrowing start (including losing some reindeer, a wild ride in Vancouver, and a terrifying encounter with lions in the Serengeti), Arthur, Grandsanta, and gift-wrapping elf Bryony (Ashley Jensen) finally make it to Trelew, their final destination. With a bicycle in hand, Arthur makes his way to the address of little Gwen Hines, and he enters the residence with Bryony's help. Everything seems to be going smoothly — that is, until they realize that Santa's elves have already been there. In fact, they are not in Trelew, England, but in Trelew, Mexico.

As an alarm rings, Arthur is attacked by a guard chihuahua, who latches onto one of his reindeer slippers and refuses to let go, no matter how hard Arthur tries to shake him off. "He likes these slippers even more than you do!" Bryony observes as she finally manages to tear the dog away. Well, maybe "like" isn't the right word, Bryony. The kids watching this scene might miss the nuance, but adults won't — especially those who have a canine companion, along with a stuffed animal they've had to keep hidden away.

Still, it seems Arthur can't bring himself to let the little pooch be separated from his new friend. He gives the dog the slipper, wishing him a happy Christmas before making his escape.

Would would really happen to Arthur and the gang after leaving the earth's atmosphere?

In the third act of "Arthur Christmas," Arthur is at his lowest point when the team crashes in Cuba. It seems that he has lost his Christmas spirit, until Gwen's letter reminds him that it doesn't matter who delivers Santa's gift, as long as it gets there. With newfound enthusiasm, Arthur, Bryony, and Grandsanta hatch a plan to recover the sleigh and finish what they started.

Once they make their way back onto the sleigh, the next problem is getting their bearings since the navigation system is kaput and Grandasanta's map is long gone. Yet Grandsanta has a surefire plan to get them back on their route — he gives each of them a gas mask and drives the sleigh out of the earth's atmosphere, giving them the perfect view of the planet below.

We know that this is a children's fantasy, and there is a certain suspension of disbelief required when viewing a film like this. However, gas masks are just not going to cut it when it comes to space travel. In reality, Arthur, Grandsanta, and Bryony would be boiling from the inside, balloon to twice their normal size, and pass out from the lack of oxygen within 15 seconds, according to a Business Insider article that investigates what happens to humans who interact with the vacuum of space without a suit. But hey, it's a Christmas movie for families, not "Event Horizon."

Mrs. Claus is the one who really runs the show

It's probably no real secret that the matriarch of the Claus family is the cog that keeps everything running smoothly. Mrs. Claus (Imelda Staunton) is always there to offer love and support to the men in her family, and even though she is mainly in the background, it's clear that she's the brains behind the operation.

There are subtle hints throughout "Arthur Christmas" that Mrs. Claus does more than we might expect. After serving Grandsanta his mince pie, she lists off her duties for the rest of the evening, explaining, "I've just got to visit the elf hospital, look over a treaty with Greenland, and make the gravy." That sounds more like the duties of the first lady of the United States than it does the first lady of the North Pole. Which raises another question — why does the North Pole have a treaty with Greenland?

Later, during dinner, Mrs. Claus mentions that a polar bear attacked her, but she was saved by the skills she learned in her "online survival course." She also insists that she is perfectly capable of flying the S-1, thanks to taking a "microlight flying course." It seems that she's taking advantage of the internet by furthering her education in her golden years, and good on her for it. Yet above all, Mrs. Claus knows that Christmas should be about family, and she is there to remind her husband and sons of their true value.