If you’re looking for some light Christmas entertainment, Richard Curtis, the writer of Love Actually and Notting Hill has something for you. Partnering with relatively inexperienced Director Sam Boyd over a heavily spiked cup of hot cocoa while binge-watching Elf, I imagine them saying, “If we could just get Melissa McCarthy to play the genie!”

And they did. And I like anything with McCarthy in the lead role, but this bordered on embarrassing, so let’s revisit the notion of “light Christmas entertainment.”


Where do you find a movie rated PG these days other than Disney? That rating pretty much guarantees that you won’t have to explain things to the kids or be offended by gratuitous sex, violence, or vomit. And we’re all busy at this time of year, so ninety-three minutes of mindless fun feels just about right.


The story is worn out on two levels. First, a mysterious object, when rubbed, brings forth a genie in a flurry of second-rate visual effects with an unlimited supply of wishes to be granted. Wait, unlimited? Aren’t genies supposed to grant three wishes? Yes, that’s explained. All of the usual “I wish for,” regret and hijinks ensue.


Second, the underlying theme of a father so caught up in his work that he misses a series of his daughter’s important events has been overdone for a long time. Here we begin to get glimpses of Walter Hobbs, though a much nicer portrayal in the hands of Paapa Essiedu as Bernard, than James Caan’s mean dad in Elf. Bernard’s entitled wife is quick to kick him to the curb, and really not very forgiving when he devotes himself to making things right (with plenty of magic.)


The Elf comparisons are numerous, mostly because McCarthy seems to be channeling Will Ferrell’s character to keep things silly. There are lots of visual gags for a magical being to use after an absence of two thousand years, and several verbal ones as well. “You knew Jesus, the son of God?” says Bernard. “I thought he was kidding!” replies the genie. She then proceeds to wash her hair in the toilet. 


I’m not giving away anything that isn’t in the trailer. So, grab some egg nog and cookies, don’t bother hitting pause if you have to go to the bathroom, and light up the Christmas tree. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, just not always for movies.


Genie (2023) runs 1 hour, 33 minutes and is rated PG.

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