A 2012 TV-movie aimed at kids boasting a great cast. This is ‘warming’ (?) ‘feel-good’ (?) Christmas film that puts the emphasis on family rather than wealth, gain, and possessions.
12-year-old Chloe is an unhappy child, at home her mother has no time for her, putting her energy into right-wing politics instead. Her father is yearning for his old life as a rock guitarist, and meanwhile her sister is a child prodigy who can’t do wrong. School is no better as Chloe is being marginalised and bullied by Pippa and her gang of cool kids. One day Chloe strikes up a conversation with a homeless man and his dog; Mr Stink and Duchess. Chloe lets Mr Stink live in the families shed, and as they get closer as friends, she learns about how he started to fall the ladder of life to become who he is. Together they form a friendship which helps Chloe defy all odds and fight to save the dysfunctional family Christmas.
Designed for TV with no lofty ambitions beyond being repeated on lazy Christmas TV schedules, this film is setup to be a feel-good film with lots of very stereotypical characters in it – sometimes bordering on slightly offensive stereotypes. The film is based on a book by David Walliams with additional writing for the film done by Simon Nye. The plot isn’t all that original, but it’s more so aimed at being harmless and easy. The cast is strong in the film with Nell Tiger Free as Chloe, Hugh Bonneville as Mr Stink, and Johnny Vegas playing Dad, with Sheridan Smith playing Mum. There is also an appearance from the author of the piece, David Walliams, as well as a starring role for Pudsey the performing dog which won a TV talent contest in the UK.
This is the first of David Walliams’ books that was converted into film. It is inoffensive enough without being ground-breaking. It touches on kids’ “fart” humour with Bonneville’s character virtually having stink lines emitting of him to go with the cartoon effect fart’s and bad breath. In my opinion there are a lot of better feel-good Christmas films for kids – this is a bleached down and polished, safe option, where the creator added what he thought kids would like to see, rather than adding what they want. Unfortunately, Walliams is not Roald Dahl or JK Rowling, the plot is not that original and there are aspects which were not delivered well, and some things that missed the mark completely – but that might have been me missing the mark, after all, this is a kids movie after all.
Dir. Declan Lowney – Runtime: 60 mins – Rating: U