Movie Review Mom: The Man Who Invented Christmas


Grade:  A-

Movie Review Mom
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Rating:  PG, 104 minutes

In a Nutshell:   I admit it.  I loved this movie, because I’m author.  I have a particular fondness for movies that peel back the curtains on the life of a successful author and reveal the painful writing process, including writer’s block, muses, and taking notes of people’s names (I do all that too.)   This family-friendly film is about Charles Dickens and how he wrote the beloved “A Christmas Carol”, timed perfectly in theaters to kick off this year’s holiday season.

I love that he was inspired by life around him.  Charles Dickens’ father warns, “We must not disturb the poet when the divine frenzy is upon him.”  True THAT!  When I’m writing and “in the zone”, it makes me crazy when I get interrupted, so I got a kick out of watching Charles deal with the constant knocking at his door.

Based on the book, this spirited film is perfect for almost all ages and will leave you with the desire to do something kind for someone this Christmas season.  In fact, after Dickens’ book was released in 1843, charitable giving immediately surged.  Let’s hope this movie gets the same reaction!

Tips for parents: 

  • If your kids have never heard or read Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, then you’ll want them to become familiar with it first.
  • Kids will be surprised to learn that Christmas wasn’t always so commercial as it is now.
  • Kids probably won’t know about “debtors’ prison”, which is where people were sent when they couldn’t pay their bills in England.  Work houses also existed in England and are mentioned in the movie several times.  Poor and destitute people were forced to live and work in horrible conditions, so bad that they often preferred death over a work house.
  • I heard profanity twice. One of those times was the British swear word “bloody.”
  • Some words your kids may not know are “nappies” (British word for “diaper”) and “necromancer” (conjurer).

Uplifting theme: 

  • “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” – John Dickens (Jonathan Pryce)
  • “Christmas…the hope that our better natures will prevail.” – John Forster (Justin Edwards)
  • Are you fettered by chains that you have made in life?  Jacob asked, “Do you know the link of the chain you bear yourself?” (played by Donald Sumpter)

 Things I liked:

  • Dan Stevens and those blue eyes!  If you wanted to see more of him since you first discovered him in “Beauty and the Beast”, you’ll love watching him star in this movie as the famous Charles Dickens.
  • Christopher Plummer was perfect as Ebenezer Scrooge. Perfect.
  • The set pieces, furniture, and costume designs are really great.  I loved the details like the oil lamps for street lights.  Speaking of sets, some of the pieces from the TV series “Penny Dreadful” were used to make this film.  Despite the fact that you really feel like you’re in 19th Century London, most of the filming was done in Ireland.
  • Some well-placed humor.
  • The audience laughed when Charles Dickens’ publisher said, “There’s not much of a market for Christmas.”
  • While “A Christmas Carol” addresses the spirit of Christmas, Charles Dickens’ book “The Life of Our Lord” is one he wrote for his children where he bears testimony of the Savior of the world and shares his Christian beliefs.
  • We don’t often see PG live action movies, so this was refreshing to see playing in theaters.
  • I love how the characters in Charles’ books come to life for him and through him.  They’re a part of the cast in the film.  In fact, Charles explains, “Get the name right and the character will appear.”  I write non-fiction and have always been fascinated with how the writing process works for fiction authors who create characters and worlds.
  • There are several references to Shakespeare and, in fact, most of the cast in the film are trained Shakespearean actors.  In real life, Charles Dickens adored “The Bard” and acted in some of his plays.  Many of them had also previously worked on other adaptations of the Christmas Carol.

 Movie Review Mom director's chair

Things I didn’t like:

  • It’s a little slow moving.
  • Neither the title of the movie nor Dickens’ book are properly explained during the movie.
  • Some of the flashbacks were shown at odd times and might be a bit confusing for children.
  • While a biopic of sorts, some of the story is fiction.  We honestly don’t know as much about Charles Dickens’ writing process as we would like to!

 Interesting quotes:

  • “Debt is an ogre.  If you’re not careful, it can eat you up.” – Charles Dickens
  • “People will believe anything if you’re finely dressed.” – John Dickens (Jonathan Pryce) 

 Funny lines:

  • “I’m the author here!” – Charles Dickens

“Allegedly.” – Scrooge

Movie Review Mom

Trina Boice is the author of 21 books for Latter-day Saint audiences. She currently teaches for BYU-Idaho, and the Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Las Vegas. She currently writes for The Answer Newspaper, ,, and is the Entertainment News Editor for In addition to her writing and teaching work, Trina has worked as a legislative assistant in Congress, and as a political correspondent for PBS in San Diego.