The Man Who Invented Christmas – Another Delightful Retelling of the Classic Christmas Carol

I feel I should start this review with the statement that I am not a fan of Christmas. In fact, it is my least favorite holiday, and on a regular basis around this time of year, people refer to me as a Scrooge. So, to start this review off by saying that I enjoyed this film is a pretty bold statement.

The Man Who Invented Christmas takes a tale that has literally been re-told a thousand times and tells it from a different point of view, from the point of view of the writer; the very well know Charles Dickens and his A Christmas Carol. This form of movie is not necessarily a new concept, as we have seen with Finding Neverland and recently with Goodbye Christopher Robin. In the case of The Man Who Invented Christmas, however, the movie focuses on the inner turmoil and easy distractions that an author can go through when attempting to focus on writing. The film is based on a book by Les Standiford and directed by Bharat Nalluri.

The film opens with Charles Dickens, played by Dan Stevens, having trouble working on his next novel. The acclaimed writer is suffering from a case of writers’ block after having released a trio of flops. Contributing to his block is a house remodel in the process, a family to feed, and a father (Jonathan Pryce) who he feels is a burden. It is in these circumstances that we find Dickens sitting in his study- moody and feeling a bit miserly. Thanks to a bit of inspiration from his children’s newest nanny, and the characters in his own life, he finds the beginning of an idea for a Christmas novel with ghosts – an idea that doesn’t seem to go over that well with his publishers, forcing him to publish the novel himself, which is adding to his stresses.

The movie does a nice job of taking the characters out of the novel Dickens is working on and integrating them into his life, such as Scrooge himself, played perfectly by Christopher Plummer. The film also does a lovely job of taking those in his life such as his friend John Forster (Justin Edwards) and working them into his novel. It is through this mixing of the real and fantasy we find Dickens interacting with his characters come to life. The characters sometimes working with him and sometimes against, in a race to complete his novel in time for Christmas. The movie is written by Susan Coyne who does an excellent job of taking the text from A Christmas Carol and bringing it to life for the audience. It is a joy to hear someone say a line that we recognize from the novel as it is used in Dickens conversations with his ghosts.

For the movie snob, The Man Who Invented Christmas isn’t going to set any records. We know how the movie ends when entering the theatre, but as they say, sometimes it is not the destination but the journey that matters. What this film is going to do is provide the viewer with a light film that is entertaining enough for the entire family to enjoy this holiday season. The Man Who Invented Christmas will hopefully be added to the list of holiday classics just as many of the other films based on A Christmas Carol have been.

  • Director:  Bharat Nalluri
  • Written by:  Susan Coyne, Les Standiford
  • Starring:  Dan Stevensi
  • Rated PG
  • Running Time: 1 hour and 44 minutes.

Review by Milo Denison, the author of How to Manage Your Manager and host of podcast The 80s and 90s Uncensored.

Movie Trailer

Now available on DVD or streaming