The Next Reel • Season 11 • Series: 10 Year Anniveraries • Sarah Smith's 2011 film Arthur Christmas

Arthur Christmas • The Next Reel

We close out our 10-part 10 Year Anniversary series – all in part of celebrating our 10 years of podcasting – with a holiday treat. We’re looking at Sarah Smith’s 2011 film ‘Arthur Christmas.’ It’s an absolute delight of a film with a voice cast that brings their A-game headed by James McAvoy. Will this turn into your own annual treat? Check it out this holiday season then tune in!

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"No one gets an unwrapped present on my watch!”

The original idea for Arthur Christmas, at the time called Operation Rudolph, had a much darker thread in it involving reindeer burgers. Luckily, the story evolved and turned into a wild story about a hereditary line of Santas running things with a million elves helping out (really doing all the work). The story is one of commerce and efficiency, but also about the meaning of Christmas and believing. Sarah Smith had experience with complex stories, so this film’s clever script fits right in with her live action work she’d done before with Armando Iannucci. Directing her first animated film, with help from Barry Cook, she crafted a holiday classic. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we wrap up our 10 Year Anniversary series with Smith’s 2011 film Arthur Christmas.

Arthur Christmas makes us happy.

This is an easy film to love. Wonderful characters, fun character design from the minds of the Aardman team, and a heartwarming story about Santa’s youngest son, Arthur, who works in the mail department. He may be a bit clumsy, but he has the true spirit of the holiday. James McAvoy brings him to life in a performance full of goofy charm. He’s helped by Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, and Bill Nighy as they set out to deliver a present that got missed.

The story is touching, and it’s smarter than a lot of animated films. Small jokes, big jokes, Aardman jokes – everything’s in there. And we laugh a lot throughout this one. But there’s also a thread of commerce and big business taking over operations of this sort of place, brought to live in Hugh Laurie’s character Steve, who has transformed delivery with the sleigh into the highest of high tech jobs, with the actual sleigh replaced by what looks like the Starship Enterprise painted red. It’s a genius idea, and it speaks to the idea of commerce vs. the true meaning of Christmas.

It’s hard to go wrong with Arthur Christmas. We have such a great time with this one. It’s an annual viewing at Andy’s house and will be for years to come. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out then tune in. And let us know what you think! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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