The Muppet Christmas Carol
It’s the start of that magical time of the year. Christmas is back in session and everyone is scrambling to start preparing. December first is my date to start, but some people take it back to Thanksgiving as their start date. Some start the day after Halloween for crying out loud! You can’t blame them. People find the holidays as the best of the year. They are impatient to put themselves back into those bright colors, delicious tastes, and coming together with loved ones. I love Christmas a lot (I’m wearing an ugly sweater right now), but I have firm belief that putting everything up too soon will make me sick of it too early.
I can understand though how all of this holiday stuff could annoy a lot of people. While I know that there are people like this out there, I have yet to meet someone who downright hates the holidays. We of course can always refer to these people as Scrooges. You all know this; all coming back from the famous Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol. They could be given a ton of gift and they would still not care. Even being surrounded by Muppets could not make one man flinch in The Muppet Christmas Carol.
This movie was made right after Jim Henson passed away, so you can tell that his fingerprints are all over this adaptation. And I don’t refer to the Muppets, but rather that Muppet-like tone that took until 2011’s The Muppets to find again. And I’m referring to the original satire tone that it was originally famous for. Good jokes amongst puppets that we believed were real. On paper, putting these characters into the dark tale of A Christmas Carol seems like a dumb idea. But for the most part, it actually follows the story quite well.
Putting itself in the Dickens Victorian era, Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Michael Caine) is a miser who only loves money. Kermit is Bob Cratchit as he’s able to persuade his boss to let him and the other bookkeepers off for the next Christmas morning. Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat play Charles Dickens as they narrate the actions of Scrooge as he returns home for the night. Believe it or not, most of the main Muppets you know are sidelined to focus on its human characters more. In fact, each ghost is an all new Muppet characters that fits each position. The ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future must convince Scrooge to change his ways or else.
I’ll give this a lot of credit for having the Muppets playing the side characters as Michael Caine actually gives a good performance as Scrooge. I like how they let him smile in the beginning. This really makes this guy cold, as it makes him happy that he’s a money hungry miser. Now the original scrooge would look at any of these Muppets and ask what they are. But this Caine Scrooge reacts as if the side characters were real.
Despite the fact that The Muppet Christmas Carol is a true Muppet movie, it still carries the dark tone from the novel it’s based on. Probably not the darkest around, but I’ll get around to that. I can even say that this was one of the versions that I saw as a child that introduced me to the old story. I would recommend doing the same with other children. Not too scary, funny, and even heartfelt. Though I will admit that the sequence with the Ghost of Christmas Past feels very rushed. I don’t know if there was a deleted scene, but it’s very jarring compared to the rest of the movie. Go figure.
I’ll give this four buckets of coal out of five. Though I don’t think it’s the one of the best, A Muppet Christmas Carol does provide a version of the story that’s safe for kids without being too safe. It’s a fun watch if you a Muppet fan.