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Genie review – soulless Richard Curtis New York festive caper

In the overstuffed banquet of Christmas movies, this Richard Curtis-scripted fantasy directed by Sam Boyd is the bread sauce: bland, predictable and seemingly chucked together with minimal effort at the last minute from the most basic ingredients. A frazzled, overworked dad, Bernard (Paapa Essiedu), disappoints his wife and daughter one too many times when he prioritises his extravagantly mean boss (Alan Cumming) at a Manhattan auction house over his family. His wife enforces a trial separation, which leaves Bernard staring down the barrel of the loneliest of Christmases.

But then, thanks to some fairly ropey CGI effects and a jewellery box of uncertain provenance, Bernard finds himself lumbered with a temporary roommate: a 2,000-year-old genie named Flora (Melissa McCarthy). Flora offers unlimited wishes, and a chance for Bernard to reconnect with the true spirit of Christmas consumerism. Jokes hinge upon McCarthy mugging her way through the film, interacting loudly with elements of modernity such as pizza restaurants and gym equipment. It’s all sparkle, no soul.