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Exclusive: Love, Actually's Richard Curtis Gonna Rub That Genie in a Bottle

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 16, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 16, 2010 |

I’ve never heard of Bernard and the Genie before today. It was a 1990 television movie in Britain written by Richard Curtis (Love, Actually, Notting Hill). The description of the movie is every bit as dumb as the title would suggest: It’s about an art dealer who loses his job and his girlfriend only to stumble upon a lamp which unleashes a genie that’d been trapped inside for 2,000 years. Given a wish he can use on anything in the world, the art dealer wishes for a famous painting. Complications ensue when the police believe that he’d stolen the painting. It starred Alan Cumming and Rowan Atkinson.

It sounds moronic.

So, Dimension Films is going to remake it into a feature film. Of course. Because who can resist the allure of a magic genie film? What is it about magic genies and that one wish that we’re so fascinated by, anyway? If you’ve seen the After-School Special “All the Money in the World,” then you know that that one wish never goes well (in “All the Money in the World,” that was the kid’s one wish — he bankrupted the world economy. Oops). These magic Genie bottles just want to hammer home how misguided our adolescent wish fantasies are. You just can’t win with those magic wishes, unless the wish is to return the Genie to its bottle. And no: You can’t wish for more wishes, asshole.

Anyway, Richard Curtis is producing, and he’s penned the script, expanding what I’m sure was an overlong 70-minute television film into probably a 123-minute film crammed with as many English cameos as he could muster, maybe a few Motown feel-good numbers, and a forest-full of sap. And, of course, one token American actor. Dollars to donuts the genie is turned into a female love interest, to boot.

I wonder how he’s going to squeeze Bill Nighy into this one?

Update: A commenter below, Lenore, provided this description of the movie, which makes it sound a lot more appealing:

Well, alright, it’s a warm, fuzzy little movie and deeply, deeply silly, with only the occasional touch of sitcom sentimentality. The description above makes it sound like some sort of serious art theft picture. It is most definitely not.

It’s a Christmas movie; the theft of the Mona Lisa takes up about ten minutes of screentime and is used chiefly for a gag about Kylie Minogue; Bernard kills a policeman by accident with a scimitar; the Genie goes to the movies just to look at Linda Hamilton’s “sixty feet high” breasts again; there are a few too many gags about the Middle Eastern Genie eating rabbit droppings and shagging sheep; Bob Geldof’s in it (these days they’d probably put Peaches in it instead); a small child in a wheelchair gets blown up by his older brother; and I have seen this thing too many times.

I don’t think it’s been screened in the UK for a long, long time, probably because the song played throughout to signal how great Bernard’s life is contains the line “If he were a girl he’d be Princess Di”. Which wouldn’t really work these days. Alan Cumming is adorable, and the whole thing is so Christmassy you might well vomit tinsel.

(Source: The Hollywood Cog)

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.