Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Muppet Christmas Carol: A Good Family/Christmas Movie!

The Good: Decent music, Good themes, Fun, Muppets!
The Bad: Light on DVD bonus features, Very simple
The Basics: A fun family film, The Muppet Christmas Carol retells Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol in a nonthreatening, non-dreary way!

Right before Christmas last year, my wife and I sat down for The Muppet Christmas Carol and the biggest surprise for me is that it has taken me this long to write about it. True to its title, The Muppet Christmas Carol is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol reimagined with Muppets occupying many of the roles. This musical presentation features Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge and has Gonzo, the Muppet, narrating as Charles Dickens.

Ebenezer Scrooge is a miser in London who does not care about Christmas, only money. While he keeps the firm he runs freezing cold (so cold that the rats he employs complain about it), he is quite well-to-do and takes advantage of the good-natured Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog). But on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by his dead business partners who warn him of the coming of three ghosts. The ghosts show him the world - past, present and yet-to-come - and how Scrooge has become more loathsome and less loving. This opens Scrooge to the potentials of change and fellowship with his fellow man.

The story has been around for almost two hundred years and The Muppet Christmas Carol is a fun twist on it, with Muppets singing and dancing their way through it. The songs are fun and energetic and the sense of movement will entertain children, if not reawaken the child within adult viewers.

That said, the film is simple, obvious and direct. While the music is fun, none of the tunes are particularly memorable. As well, while Michael Caine does fine acting opposite the plush Muppets, many of the other human characters seem to miss things like eyelines or realistic reactions with their puppet counterparts.

And while Caine seems to be having fun with his Muppet counterparts, it seems to take him a while to warm up to the concept of the film. This is to say that at the beginning, it is not so much that Scrooge is cold-hearted or cruel, the characterization comes much more from Caine being stiff in his deliveries. It is only late in the film, when Scrooge is transformed, that Caine seems appropriately comfortable in the role and with his costars.

Gonzo's presentation of the Christmas Carol as "Charles Dickens" works to help the flow between songs and make the story more accessible for younger audiences. The humor in his scenes works nicely.

On DVD, The Muppet Christmas Carol comes with only previews for other Muppet movies, as well as a brief featurette on the making of The Muppet Christmas Carol, as this was the first Henson cinematic endeavor after Jim Henson's death.

Even with its little eccentricities, The Muppet Christmas Carol is wholesome family fun which tells a timeless story of putting people before profit. Even when it is predictable, it is hard to argue with that.

For other Christmas movies, please check out my reviews of:
The Nightmare Before Christmas
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Batman Returns


For other film reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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