TV & Radio
(BBC/Roadshow Entertainment, G)
Mr Stink feels like a lost Roald Dahl story.
I had to look twice to ensure Dahl, the genius behind such classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach and Matilda, didn't write the book on which this BBC drama is based. It is, in fact, based on the bestselling book by comedian David Walliams who appears in the film.
It's about an unlikely friendship between the local tramp, who calls himself Mr Stink, his dog Duchess, and 12-year-old schoolgirl Chloe.
Their friendship develops in the school holidays over Christmas when Chloe stumbles upon Mr Stink in the park.
Hugh Bonneville, known the world over for his portrayal of Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey, plays the unlikely lead. At first Bonneville seems a strange choice for this magical part but, as the story unfolds, all becomes clear as to why he was chosen.
We discover Mr Stink's story through the idealistic eyes of Chloe, played by relative newcomer Nell Tiger Free, who takes pity on the tramp and offers him a secret billet in the garden shed. Free's wide eyed inocence is perfect for the role.
Both must keep their friendship secret, or Mr Stink will find himself back out on the street.
First, the obvious observation. Mr Stink flies in the face of conventional wisdom as we constantly tell our children to beware of strangers. Of course if you stuck rigidly to that rule no one would ever make any new friends and that's where this story feels like Roald Dahl. His books are packed with such characters and the plot, which involves the Prime Minister meeting the stinky old tramp, is also reminiscent of something Dahl would have written.
Having discussed all of this with my wife as the credits rolled I flicked on the short interview which Walliams which appears on this DVD. Guess what? His story is frequently compared to Roald Dahl, but the similarities are unintentional.
Mr Stink a gentle comedy for all the family overflowing to the brim with magic. It feels like it should be watched on Christmas Eve and leaves you wondering whether Mr Stink was, in fact, an angel instead of a tramp.
- © Fairfax NZ News