Movie Review: ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’
Starring: Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, and Jonathan Pryce
Plot: Charles Dickens struggles with writer’s block creating The Christmas Carol
The titular man who invented Christmas is not Christ. Or a leader of faith really. It is Charles Dickens, and his supposed feat is actually writing “The Christmas Carol.” He had found great success with “Oliver Twist,” but a few flops later, Dickens is short on cash and light on ideas. He starts to reflect on his poor upbringing in the workhouse with a con artist father and how, now that he is a celebrity, he is surrounded by the most insufferable jerks London has to offer. His intention is not to redefine the holiday, but to write a story immortalizing society’s antagonists as a grumpy old man haunted by his own sins, thus inspiring others to be something better.
What it really is is a stealthy adaptation of the Christmas Carol. Although no where near as curmudgeonly or even close to the brink of being “unrepentable” as Scrooge is in his own story, Dickens still has a few things he needs to work on, mostly when it comes to his relationship with his father. We only ever get to see his father as a loving family man whose heart seems in the right place, but he clearly has skeletons in his closet, especially in how Dickens was treated while he was growing up. He is ill-tempered during his creative process too. He allows it to consume him often to the chagrin of his loved ones. Dan Stevens finds the right amount of British foppish charm to make him seem more like an absent minded fool rather than a big jerk.
Its not a supernatural journey, but while vividly imagining his story come to life, he clearly sees how it echoes in his own life. Watching his creative process is actually quite fun, maybe surprisingly so. Those who are familiar with the tale will hear it referenced over and over again in the background as if everything is seeping into Dickens’ subconscious for him to piece together later, like kid playing with his Legos. We actually get to see him sit in his office and come face to face with his characters, especially Scrooge, some of the more indelible moments in the film.
It is often cheesy and always light-hearted, even when glossing over the tragedy. At every turn, it decides to be saccharine above all else, and there is definitely a time when I would think that isn’t enough. But that time is not now. I have become very nostalgic for the holiday season. I went to a Catholic school as a kid, so Christmas decorations and lead-up festivities to the actual day were a given. Now, as an adult with a..ugh…job none of that stuff is around anymore. So, this movie is coming at a really good time. It has caught me in a generous mood.Besides, the headlines are so goddamned depressing, its nice to having something godblessed sentimental