With the recent re-release of Love, Actually, now 20-years-old, it’s a timely reminder of the considerable talents of its writer and director Richard Curtis.

It’s often considered a Christmas classic, although arguably it’s more of a well written rom-com set during the yuletide festivities.

Since then he’s stayed away from using Christmas as a backdrop, until now, returning as he does to the festive period with this all too gentle comedy.

boom reviews Genie
You know Christmas is too commercialised when it's sponsored by We Buy Any Car...

Although Christmas is fast approaching, Bernard (Paapa Essiedu) has other things on his mind, namely his young daughter’s birthday. He can’t afford to miss it, as due to his heavy work commitments, he’s missed out on many things already, severely testing the patience of his wife Julie (Denée Benton).

But the inevitable happens, and his evil boss Flaxman (Alan Cumming) forces him to work late and miss the celebrations.

It’s the final straw for Julie, who decides to take their daughter Eve (Jordyn McIntosh) to her mother’s for the holiday, and Bernard isn’t invited.

So home alone, he finds himself with one of the antiques from work, which mysteriously fills his room with smoke when he interacts with it. And out of nowhere, standing in his living room, is a woman. She tells him that her name is Flora (Melissa McCarthy) and that she is in fact a genie. Of course Bernard doesn’t believe her, but he soon changes his mind when she proves it to him by making some of his wishes come true.

Now it finally feels like he’s in a position to win his family back, but can Flora’s wishes fix his marriage?

boom reviews Genie
So tell me toots, I saw your show, are you that snarly in real life?

Although Curtis has written the script, directing duties were handed over to the fairly inexperienced Sam Boyd, who has only directed one other feature before; that said, he did create the TV series Love Life, which you can sort of see similarities with here with the fragile relationships involved.

As far as the script is concerned, its template is very much a traditional style, similar in vein to the classic It’s a Wonderful Life, but a lite version. And that’s part of the film’s problem. Unlike many of those classic Christmas films, including all the Scrooges, which this film also borrows from with its humbug boss played by Alan Cumming, there doesn’t feel like much is at stake here. At worst, Bernard is going to break up with his wife, which in the grand scheme of things is something he’ll probably get over.

British actor Essiedu is certainly charming, and epitomises the everyman character. But unfortunately it feels like Curtis has tried to ram a square genie storyline into a round Christmas film hole, and unsurprisingly it just doesn’t fit.

The script is also disappointingly flat by Curtis’ high standards, lacking any real personality. It also feels as if McCarthy is on a leash throughout, as it’s a particularly safe performance, and doesn’t appear to have had much room for her ad-libbing skills, which the film could have certainly benefitted from.

Its setting is also disappointingly generic, set as it is in tired NYC, which only adds to the sentiment of having seen it all before.

So the result is a hybrid fantasy Christmas film that fails to produce on either count, making for an insipid festive flick.

Perhaps there’s chance that Richard Curtis can possibly reach the dizzying heights he’s hit before with some iconic scripts, but on this effort, that’s probably just wishful thinking.

we give this two out of five