‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’s’ sterling performances and festive spirit make up for its by the numbers presentation

Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer elevate proceedings.
Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens
[Image: Bleecker Street]

‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

 

Director: Bharat Nalluri

 

Starring: Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer

 

Rating: PG

 

3 (Out Of 5) Globes

Plot: In October, 1843, Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) was reeling from the failure of his last three books. During a fever-pitched six weeks leading up to Christmas Dickens starts to dream up a festive story, though, even going as far as to interact with his new character Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer). Dickens is so intent on writing and releasing the book in time for Christmas that when his publishers reject the idea he decides to risk his own quickly dwindling fortune by self-publishing, even though he hasn’t even finished it.  

Review: Considering that most of the globe can recite and breakdown huge parts of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novel “A Christmas Carol,” “The Man Who Invented Christmas” deserves a hearty pat on the back for somehow managing to bring the tale to life in an original way.

Sure, not all of it works, as the film is never able to circumvent or overcome the fact that everyone watching knows that A Christmas Carol becomes a roaring success. This means that rather than being emphatically hooked and compelled by the film and its plot, you’re never more than just pleased by the background information on the origins of the book.

There are several elements of “The Man Who Invented Christmas” that keep it frivolously entertaining, though. To begin with director Bharat Nalluri and writer Susan Coyne really lean into the Victorian period, the tight turnaround and speed it took to bring “A Christmas Carol” to life, and the fantastical element of Dickens taking on his characters, all of which makes “The Man Who Invented Christmas” feel fresh and inventive.

What really makes “The Man Who Invented Christmas” shine, though, is its impeccable casting. That’s from the supporting work of Justin Edwards, Simon Callow, and Jonathan Pryce to the more prevalent Christopher Plummer, as they provide a soul and humor that immediately elevates scenes.

It is Dan Stevens, though, that really makes “The Man Who Invented Christmas” feel more than the sum of its parts. It really is a virtuoso display, as Stevens’ Dickens goes from funny to evil to a freak of nature brimming with a manic energy that you just can’t take your eyes off of.

Ultimately, though, “The Man Who Invented Christmas” is nothing more than just informative, neither building or ebbing considerably. But at least it comes full circle and celebrates the spirit of the season that "A Christmas Carol" spread far and wide, doing so in such a well-meaning manner that you can’t help but feel a little heartened by it.  

 
Latest From ...
Most Popular From ...