If I were a betting man, I’d put the smart money on the majority of adult males today whole-heartedly choosing to pass on watching a bunch of colorful socks sing holiday songs to the narration of Chuck Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. However, I advise giving it a go anyway if the only thing on the tube this holiday season is either Reindeer Games or a shitty Tim Allen Christmas movie sequel.
Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson and heir to a puppet empire, takes the helm of the franchise following his father’s death and breathes passable new life into the lungs of the classic Dickens holiday tale that most kids instinctively hate anyway. The film takes moderate creative license with telling the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine), who gets a glimpse at his past, present, and future Christmases with the help of a little ghost girl, a giant (drunk?) Rubeus Hagrid puppet, and a Ringwraith on loan from Middle Earth. (SPOILER ALERT: The true meaning of Christmas is learned!)
“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads…” – Ghost of Christmas Future
Henson Junior’s version is a witty, self-aware take on an old tale with playful gags that both kids and adults can enjoy. The majority of the songs are catchy and the characters are lively and humorous without being overwhelmingly annoying. The ever impressive Michael Caine portraying the iconic Mr. Scrooge is cross-generational Disney casting at its finest. But was I the only one waiting for him to say “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”?
Mike Caine: from winning Oscars to working alongside Oscar the Grouch.
Even while only clocking in at just south of an hour and a half, I found myself more than a tad fatigued from listening to scores of fuzzy, felt, little vermin sing and dance about the joys of Christmas by the end of the film. I’ll stand behind the argument that no one really needs a solid eighty-nine minutes of ‘Disney does Dickens’ in their life. I could see The Muppets Christmas Carol working better as a shortened T.V. special.
Why didn’t they just put a wig on Michael Bolton and give him the part of “Belle”?
What the hell is with the creepy ballad sung by Scrooge’s former lover during the ‘Christmas past’ flashback? The scene was featured only in the original home video release (the version I watched for some reason) and eventually omitted completely from the DVD release of the film. One thing that the ‘Muppets’ movies up until The Muppet Christmas Carol had going for them was that they could be completely meaningful and relevant without taking themselves too seriously. In attempting to induce the waterworks out of its older audience, this sleeper of a scene just completely lost me.
Cheery, witty, intelligent, colorful holiday merriment brimming with moral lessons for the whole fam. Nothing more, nothing less. It is probably needless to say that The Muppets Christmas Carol will most likely tickle the fancies of hardcore ‘Muppets’ fans more than it will for hardcore Dickens fans.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Rizzo the Rat falls down or gets hurt.
Take a Drink: every time Mr. Scrooge says the word “spirit.”
Drink a Shot: every time Mr. Scrooge says “Humbug”.