Nicholas Nickleby movie poster
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Nicholas Nickleby movie poster

Nicholas Nickleby Movie Review

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Saturday was a long night. Having held onto three Netflix movies for almost a week now, it was my decision to watch them all in a row. The first two, Final Destination 2 and Spider, were duds, and so that left Nicholas Nickleby, the Charles Dickens adaptation, to be my savior...

Set in 19th century England (Netflix said it was set in the early 1900's, which is quite different from the 19th century), the movie tells the story of Nicholas Nickleby and his sister as they travel to London after their father dies to seek help from their uncle. The uncle is related to Uncle Scrooge, and he sends Nicholas (Charlie Hunnam) off to teach at a prison (actually it's a school) ruled by an evil headmaster (Jim Broadbent) and tries to set up his sister, Kate (Romola Garai), with an elderly pervert. Nicholas, being the strong individual that he is, quickly leaves the school with his newfound friend, Smike (Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot) and heads back to London to "save" his sister. He also falls in love with a young woman (Anne Hathaway of The Princess Diaries).

Like most period pieces, only the right kind of audience will enjoy the movie. Nicholas Nickleby is funny, but only sporadically and mildly, with a bit of morbidity sprinkled on top. In many ways, the movie is a family film, as it contains no foul language and very little serious violence, but at the same time has elements written for adults. Nevertheless, its peculiar mix of drama, comedy and suspense results in an intriguing movie.

While my attention was dulled by having watched two bad movies prior to this one on the same night (and the fact that is was starting to get late), I still enjoyed Nicholas Nickleby. It is a classic adventure story as Nicholas goes from one situation to the next, meeting various characters (such as Nathan Lane).

The movie could have done better had fifteen or twenty minutes been cut out; there are a few slow scenes here and there that never amount to anything. A few other times it felt as though some subplots were not fleshed out enough; it seemed as though the director or screenwriter extracted elements from the novel without fully explaining their relevance.

Nevertheless, Nicholas Nickleby is a fun movie supported by good acting. Hunnam is very good as Nicholas, playing a strong and determined character that isn't afraid to stand up for what he believes in. Garai also does a good job as his sister, and Christopher Plummer and Jim Broadbent both play excellent villains.

There is nothing overwhelming about Nicholas Nickleby, but there is just something about it that makes it entertaining.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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