This adaptation strips down the Dickens novel to a trim, curiously buff shape. When his father dies, young Nick is thrown into the hands of his nefarious uncle (Christopher Plummer), then falls prey to the ogre Squeers (Jim Broadbent) and his bitchy partner (Juliet Stevenson) at Do-the-Boys School. Queer, isn't it? McGrath co-wrote Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway, and he gives the early scenes a dizzy spin. But the mix of wit and grotesquery fails when Dickens calls for pathos at the end. 108 minutes.