New 'Arthur Christmas' Trailer & Screening Reaction

arthur christmas starring james mcavoy

A new trailer for Sony Pictures' upcoming 3D, CG-animated holiday comedy Arthur Christmas has become available. The film creates a world in which the job of Santa is passed down through generations, and the current jolly bearded man (voiced by Jim Broadbent) reaches every child via the high tech organization of his eldest son, Steve (voiced by Hugh Laurie). Steve, eager to take his place as this generation's Santa, employs a massive team of highly specialized Elf operatives, a network of supercomputers and a space sleigh the size of a small city.

Santa's youngest, somewhat bumbling, and most enthusiastic son, Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy), is in charge of "letters," the old-fashioned "dear Santa" cards that come from kids far and wide. When one child goes without her present (a pink twinkle bike with stabilizers) because of a momentary "security" breach, Arthur digs up her letter to find her and right the Christmas wrong. He and his crotchety GrandSanta (voiced by Bill Nighy) embark on a rescue mission replete with reindeer (the great-grandchildren of the original team), a real sleigh, and magic (siphoned from the aurora borealis).

Yesterday afternoon the courtyard of the Sony Pictures Animation Studio in Culver City, CA was transformed into a winter wonderland complete with real snow (not something we ordinarily see in the greater Los Angeles area), hot coca and rich holiday treats. Several journalists and their families were invited to participate in the early holiday revelry, and to screen the first thirty minutes of Arthur Christmas.

First, check out the latest trailer for Arthur Christmas.

The trailer gives a good sense of the overall storyline and tone of the film, but does not fully capture the humor present in this latest from Aardman Animations (the people who brought us Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit). Judging from the thirty minutes that we were able to see, the film strikes a genuine balance between the charm and warmth necessary to qualify it as a "family film" and the comedic bite necessary to entertain the adult segment of the audience.

The jokes are intermittently sweet and sharp and the characters fresh and vivid, with a lead who is an appealing, kind-hearted, underdog who wants to bring his unusual family "business" back to its fundamental roots. With a Santa who won't let go of the metaphorical reins, an eldest son caught in the web of his technological obsession, a Ms. Clause who functions like a political wife of yore, and a cantankerous GrandSanta who responds to Arthur's exclamation that their mission is "impossible" with the rebuttal, "we used to think it was impossible to teach women to read," this truly is a fun and inventive take on the occupants of the north pole.

Told in the vein of an elaborate spy-mission, a quirky family comedy, and a classic Christmas tale with a modern twist, strong visuals are joined with a clever script to take you on an engaging holiday adventure.

We won't say much more about the details of the film, but we will say that we were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed the screening and that Arthur Christmas does indeed look to satisfy the expected tropes of a holiday story in an irreverent, witty and creative manner that will entertain the whole family.

At the close of the screening our hosts addressed the audience saying, "we hope you enjoyed our preview screening of Arthur Christmas" to which one enthusiastic five-year-old replied, "I liked it!"

While we're in a holiday frame of mind:

Sony has selected The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation as their charity partner to accompany the release of Arthur Christmas. In 2010 Marines distributed 16.8 million gifts to 7.2 million kids who may otherwise have gone without presents during the holiday season.

You can get involved and donate books, toys, games, sports equipment or a present of your choice by visiting a participating:

  • Denny's
  • The UPS Store (which is not a toy drop off location, but does sell donation cards to raise money for buying books for the TFT Literacy Program)
  • Sony Style Store

Or donating online at

Arthur Christmas opens on November 23rd.

Sarah Smith directs a voice cast that includes James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, and Ashley Jensen from a script by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith.

Follow me on twitter @jrothc

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