Friday, December 23, 2011
Bernard and the Genie (1991)
Original Airdate: November 23rd, 1991
I have a long history with Lenny Henry. I first discovered him in high school when The Lenny Henry Show used to air on Bravo (hey, anyone else remember when Bravo used to show nothing but uncut, commercial-free foreign films and British comedies? Good times). I was going through one of my typical teen angst moments, which lasted from ages 14 – 19 (and then some) when I caught an episode of the show and did something I never did in those bygone goth days… I laughed. Henry’s humor sometimes borders on the silly but it’s always effective, and dammit, he’s just so friggin’ lovable. I was instantly smitten and followed his career as best I could in those pre-internet days. A few years later, when I realized I didn’t have to wear black on the outside because black was how I felt on the inside, Bernard and the Genie was released on video. At this point I was working at a video store, and I’m certain the second the film shipped to our store, I checked it out. It was the very first time I saw Alan Cummings and like Henry, I instantly feel in love. The combo was perfect for this sweet little Christmas film.
Cummings is Bernard Bottle, an up and coming art dealer who gets dealt a bad hand of fate, thanks to his greedy boss, Charles Pinkworth (Rowan Atkinson being appropriately sleazy). In one day, Bernard is blacklisted from the art world and dumped by his girlfriend, who has left him for his best friend. And right before Christmas! Thank goodness when the ex cleared out his place, she left this weird little bottle which produces a big black genie named Josephus (soooooo Just Our Luck)! Of course, not every one of Bernard's wishes turns out perfect, but a wonderful friendship is formed between goofy djinn and man!
This is one of those zinger movies you either love or hate. The jokes fly faster than the speed of light, and it helps if you are familiar with some of the British references such as Melvyn Bragg (Bragg was also a fixture on Bravo as the host of the excellent South Bank Show), and if you love the 80s the way I do, you will love the Bob Geldof cameo! Regardless, Bernard and the Genie works because of the chemistry between the forever likable Henry and uber-adorable Cummings. I had not watched this film for many years when I decided on a whim to give it a go earlier this week. I can’t even tell you how much I still enjoy it. It’s so sweet natured and genuinely funny that I still find myself laughing out loud at many of the jokes. I would say it’s the perfect holiday film for those who tend to get blue around Christmas. I don’t mean to quote Bernard, but it will make you as happy as Michelle Pfieffer’s underpants! Now, that’s fab!
For more Christmas on TV Mayhem, click on the following links:
Terror on the 40th Floor
A Mouse, A Mystery and Me
The Gathering (written by guest blogger Joanna Wilson)
Nestor, the Long Eared Christmas Donkey