Day 10 of 12

“If you believe in this spirit thing, the miracle will happen and then you’ll want it to happen again tomorrow… It can happen every day, you’ve just got to want that feeling.”

– Bill Murray in SCROOGED

That’s right – it’s time to feel the moment and that holiday spirit thing. It’s time for SpoilerFreeReview’s 12 days of Christmas 2021 edition! We will be posting our favorite holiday experiences with 12 reviews and illustrations of movies, TV, and music. So sit back, enjoy some spiked eggnog, and welcome to SFR’s 12-days of Christmas 2021!🎅🏽

In contrast to my colleague’s ARTHUR’S PERFECT CHRISTMAS review, this film, ARTHUR CHRISTMAS, is not at all about a cartoon PBS Anteater. 

No, ARTHUR CHRISTMAS is a criminally underseen, underrated gem from Aardman Animation, the team that brought us WALLACE AND GROMIT, and the ever-charming CHICKEN RUN. After years of sitting on the shelf (like an elf), I’m glad to see it getting some regular rotation on Disney Channel and Freeform for the holidays.  And if you haven’t seen this one, I strongly encourage checking it out. 

The fun of this movie takes root in the modern-day twists it takes on the legend of Santa, from the hilarious antics of the bureaucratic elves, to the hilarious geriatric reindeer, and the updates on the sleigh. However, the strength, heart, and soul of this film is the fact that at its core it’s really about a family with a strained relationship. Every central character deep down is a good person who has lost their way, that needs to learn how to change and evolve into something better than they’ve ever been, leading to a greater understanding of one another, for the sake of saving their family (and of course Christmas). 

At its center is Arthur, Santa’s youngest son (perfectly voiced by the insanely talented James McAvoy). Pure-hearted, happy-go-lucky, and naive. You’ll never find a character that embodies the spirit of goodwill better than him. He has to deal with facing the reality of the imperfections around his father and the spirit of Christmas, against the perfect image he’s built up for both. Yet he still makes it through with optimism and love, which in turn makes him arguably one of the most lovable protagonists in any Christmas movie ever made. 

You also have Steve, Santa’s eldest son (voiced by the incomparable Hugh Laurie) – brilliant, slightly arrogant, greatly overlooked, and with zero people skills. Obsessed with inheriting his father’s legacy only to be understandably upset when he gets zero credit for his massive accomplishments. You’ve also got Jim Broadbent’s current Santa, who’s essentially been so immersed in the fame of his own legend, that he’s forgotten what the real point of Christmas is all about, particularly family. And the wonderful Bill Nighy as Grand Santa, who’s wrestling with his own feelings of feeling obsolete and irrelevant in a changing landscape.

All of this combined with dazzling animation and a heartwarming story about making sure no one person gets overlooked for Christmas, and you have a witty, funny, sweet little film about family, compassion, and a bit of hope in Christmas magic. Instead of watching HOME ALONE for the millionth time, try seeing this as soon as you can.

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS is available to stream on Freeform.

Mike Manalo

Born a Slytherin. Baptized into Marvel. Bitten by a Radioactive DC fan. And raised a Jedi, Mike Manalo is a silent guardian, a watchful protector… a Dark Nerd!

Latest from Mike Manalo


PARANORMAN tells the story of Norman Babcock, an 11 year old with the ability to see…


Brilliantly, beautifully directed, written, and animated, this is the film that put Laika on the map,…