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Nicholas Nickleby (2002) The great 1838 Dickens novel is such a thick Christmas pudding of a tale that the Royal Shakespeare Company lavished more than eight hours on… 2002-12-27 PG PT126M PT120M Drama Jamie Bell Charlie Hunnam Christopher Plummer Jim Broadbent Alan Cumming Anne Hathaway Nathan Lane Miranda Richardson United Artists (MGM)
Movie Review

Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

MPAA Rating: PG

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Nicholas Nickleby | FULL OF THE DICKENS The charming ''Nicholas'' wedding party
Image credit: Nicholas Nickleby: Simon Mein
FULL OF THE DICKENS The charming ''Nicholas'' wedding party
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Limited Release: Dec 27, 2002; Rated: PG; Lengths: 126 Minutes, 120 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Jamie Bell, Charlie Hunnam and Christopher Plummer; Distributor: United Artists (MGM)

The great 1838 Dickens novel is such a thick Christmas pudding of a tale that the Royal Shakespeare Company lavished more than eight hours on its famous 1980s stage adaptation. That's one way to go. Nicholas Nickleby, the positively brisk, sparkling new adaptation by Douglas McGrath, takes quite another route: At a little over two hours, this is a pared-down but no less essential Dickensian feast.

McGrath, who previously adapted Jane Austen's ''Emma,'' manages the feat by keeping the flavors of the book piquant while prudently eliminating some of the plot's original ingredients. Trust and deceit, generosity and meanness are fleshed out by a deft cast including Charlie Hunnam as Nicholas, Jim Broadbent as abusive boarding school owner Wackford Squeers, ''Billy Elliott'''s Jamie Bell as the wretched boarder Smike, and Christopher Plummer in a terrifyingly good performance as Nicholas' heartless rich uncle, Ralph.

Originally posted Jan 08, 2003 Published in issue #691 Jan 17, 2003 Order article reprints