The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review
If you want to remake A Christmas Carol, then remake A Christmas Carol, dammit. Don’t go the route of The Man Who Invented Christmas, a flat drama that attempts to show how Charles Dickens was inspired to write his timeless novel.
Dan Stevens stars as Dickens, a largely vanilla character whose biggest flaw seems to be that he spends too much money on things such as poor people and chandeliers. Dickens is struggling to overcome a series of flops, and over the course of 100 minutes director Bharat Nalluri taps into the author’s brain to show how his interactions with various individuals led to the development of the book.
The end result, unfortunately, deserves a big Bah Humbug!
The movie starts well enough, plopping the audience into a colorful 1843. Stevens has plenty of energy and earnestness for the material, which has him bouncing off the walls as he attempts to come up with an original idea. He runs into a couple individuals that serve as his inspiration for Scrooge, Marley and others, and in the moment it’s sort of fun to see them.
But The Man Who Invented Christmas soon runs out of steam as Nalluri struggles with how to make a movie about an author writing a book even remotely interesting, and opts to do so by turning Dickens into some form of raging schizophrenic who sees and has conversations with his characters (most notably Scrooge, played by Christopher Plummer). It’s a valiant attempt but ultimately not a good one, which turns the movie into a frenetic yet increasingly uninteresting affair that starts to make direct references to A Christmas Carol so much you wonder why Nalluri didn’t just make his own version of the published story in the first place.
I honestly couldn’t tell you what happens in the last half of the movie as I largely lost interest at some point, though I can say with some certainty that Dickens does indeed finish his book in exactly the way you’d expect. At the end, my wife, who also lost interest at some point and who had agreed to watch the movie solely because it was a Christmas movie, commented, “There wasn’t enough Christmas in it.”
The Man Who Invented Christmas isn’t very interesting, isn’t very good, and even misses the mark as a Christmas movie. Everyone involved would have been better served had they all agreed to just make the movie everyone watching it probably wants: A Christmas Carol.
On a side note, I learned that my wife has never seen the quintessential adaptation: A Muppet’s Christmas Carol. That will need to be rectified, but not until after Thanksgiving.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.