Two years after writing Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens (Stevens) is suffering from writer’s block and a lack of funds after his subsequent novels failed to sell. Finding inspiration on ye olde cobbled streets of London after coming across a rich man’s funeral with no mourners, he promises to write a novel in six weeks, ready to be published before Christmas. With the arrival of his irresponsible father (Pryce) it seems an impossible task, but as Dickens starts to visualise and interact with the characters he is writing about – including Ebenezer Scrooge (Plummer) – his new story, A Christmas Carol, begins to take shape.
In recent years, there have been numerous biopics that have given a glimpse of the lives of authors and their famous creations, from Goodbye Christopher Robin (AA Milne), Shadowlands (CS Lewis) and Finding Neverland (JM Barrie) to Miss Potter (Beatrix Potter) and Becoming Jane (Jane Austen). This is possibly the most light-hearted of them all (despite some flashbacks to Dickens’s horrendous childhood job in a boot blacking factory), thanks to a comedic slant to the script and amusing turns from likeable Stevens and a deliciously gruff Plummer.
While Dickens purists will rightly grumble that this is a mix of truth, fibs and complete fiction, it’s also a rather sweet – if slight – seasonal tale. 1951’s Scrooge and The Muppet Christmas Carol may be the best (and most fun) versions of Dickens’ classic Christmas story, but after you and your kids have seen those – and read the original novella, of course – this is an enjoyable companion piece for the whole family.
Is The Man Who Invented Christmas suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Young children (under 9) may be frightened by Scrooge’s first appearance, and the dark hooded statue-like figure that appears to Dickens but both scenes are brief.
A child at the factory is bullied, which may upset younger viewers.
If you like this, why not try: