‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ Review: Armando Iannucci’s Quirky Dickens Take Is His First Mixed Bag

Armando Iannucci has been the reigning king of filmed satire for years, but with “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” he trades zingy political satire for a messy assemblage of whimsical conceits.

On its own terms, Iannucci’s warm-hearted adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic has good intentions to spare, from an inspired color-blind cast led by Dev Patel in top form, to a cascade of playful scene transitions that mimic the kaleidoscopic overview of the Victorian narrator’s bumpy life.

But even then, the intermittent charm suffers from the choppiness of Iannucci’s approach, which veers from nuttiness to earnest restraint, as if the filmmaker were at war with his better instincts.At the same time, he has clearly pushed his talents to a new arena.

With everything from “Veep” to “The Death of Stalin,” the writer-director has transforming dense bureaucratic processes into snappy and sardonic showdowns.

With “David Copperfield,

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