The Man Who Invented Christmas: Film Review
Cast: Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Miriam Margoyles
Director: Bharat Nalluri
The Christmas onslaught of movies is now upon us.
And while some titles will sleigh, sorry, slay your will to live, Bharat Nalluri's The Man Who Invented Christmas is actually a lively flick that meshes Dickens with elements of Doctor Who and the Muppets Christmas Carol.
A rather madcap Stevens plays the author Charles Dickens, who's touring America on the success of his books. But in October 1843, following three flops, his career was flatlining.
Deciding to self-publish his next release and despite the financial pressure of having to provide for his family, both near and estranged, as well as a generous nature which sees him giving those less well off than himself, Dickens may have bitten off more than he can chew.
With deadlines fast approaching and ideas barely forming due to interruptions, Dickens is facing disaster....
The Man Who Invented Christmas is the kind of knock-about drama fare that laces Christmas feelings with the much beloved story of A Christmas Carol.
At times, like an author's fever dream, the script and pace races through Les Standiford's The Man Who Invented Christmas with such aplomb you worry that it won't all hold together.
Channeling elements of both Doctor Who's Tom Baker, foppishness and boggling eyes, Stevens' hyperactive Dickens feels more like literary necromancer rather than fully-formed literary genius but the titular romp certainly breathes a great degree of life into a well-worn tale.
More successful are the moments which see Dickens proffering a peek into the formation of characters which then go on to haunt him until the book's done - much like Marley's ghost and the others stalk Scrooge.
Plummer, as Scrooge delivers a venerable turn, managing to pull in some earnest touches on the miser; equally, Susan Coyne's script is peppered with knowing winks and nods to other Dickens' material - at one point, he meets a policeman called Copperfield.
It's these touches and the general knockabout feel of The Man Who Invented Christmas that mean it never quite outstays its welcome.
While some of the flashbacks and the daddy issues feel a little trowelled on, most of The Man Who Invented Christmas is spiffingly amusing and deftly delivered.
There's a great feel of the familiar being given a fresh once-over and while most Christmas fare can be stifling with mawkishness, Nalluri (Spooks: The Greater Good) handles it all much better than any seasonal visit from the in-laws.