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The Muppet Christmas Carol Reviews

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thmtsang
thmtsang

Super Reviewer

November 10, 2007
I love the Muppets, this movie is their adaptation of Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol. Stars Michael Caine as Scrooge.
michael e.
michael e.

Super Reviewer

December 10, 2010
The Christmas Carol is the only story that I think that no one has ever screwed up in telling a new and improve version of the classic Dickens Tale. This is a basic music rendition with the muppets, but they got probably one of the best Scrooge's ever, They got Michael Caine (Dark Knight, Alfie) who does one of his best performances in this film, he pulls off the jerk so well, and his look and voice truly matched what I thought of hearing every time I read the story. Also the music for the film is extremely well done, and it has some of the best songs that were done in the Muppet films, and that says a lot for the first Muppet film done after Jim Henson and Richard Hunt had died. My favorite song for the film is the song that describes Scrooge and gives his introduction.
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 6, 2010
I watched this movie a lot when I was younger, but now every time I watch it, it seems worse than I remember it. So, I think kids will enjoy it more than adults. I still like Michael Caine playing Scrooge, though, he is Scrooge for me, I love him. Other than that, the jokes are easy and not so funny, and the sweetness of the whole thing gets on your nerves after a while. Overall, I'd say it's a good movie, but not for watching every single Christmas.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

January 25, 2011
I'm not a fan of the Muppets by any stretch so I never understood why so many people love this interpretation of Scrooge. Michael Caine is okay, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. The endless amount of songs are just annoying and I just don't feel that it's worthy of being considered a classic or even close to it.
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

October 16, 2009
There are so many versions of A Christmas Carol out there that it soon becomes tiresome arguing about their individual merits. The only faintly reliable indicator of an adaptation's success is in its lifespan over subsequent Christmases, specifically how often it will turn up in the double editions of the Radio Times. The Muppet Christmas Carol is not the finest version of this story, but neither is it by any means the worst, and there are many elements which have cemented its status as a festive family favourite.

Purely as a matter of principle, The Muppet Christmas Carol is among the more faithful adaptations. A number of small changes have been made - there is no mention of skating penguins or rubber chicken factories in the original. But otherwise the film follows the arc of Dickens' story very closely, and the dialogue doesn't feel like it is being lazily paraphrased to prevent a modern audience from thinking

What is often forgotten is that the original story was a pot-boiler, a shorter, more incidental work designed to keep the money coming in (presumably so Dickens could afford his Christmas shopping). Its subsequent status as one of the most fondly familiar of English texts was by no means intended, a factor which makes the film's fortunes all the more apt. It has slowly grown from breaking even at the box office to be embraced as a stalwart of Christmas television.

The Muppet Christmas Carol is also the film to which Michael Caine ultimately owes his recent career revival. Aside from a BAFTA win for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the late-1980s had not been kind to him and he continued to make bad career choices. He famously could not collect his Oscar for Hannah and Her Sisters because he was on location in the Bahamas making Jaws: The Revenge. But the eventual goodwill caused by this performance, along with a revived interest in his 1960s work, would eventually lead to richer roles and a second Oscar for The Cider House Rules.

Actors who have played Ebenezer Scrooge have emphasised different aspects of the character - George C. Scott's version plays on his aggressive grumpiness, Bill Murray's version his worldly-worn weariness, and Alastair Sim's version his grim fastidiousness. Caine cherry-picks the best aspects from past portrayals and makes it his own, showing his range and placing himself in the top five all-time Scrooges. He sings well, looks great in period costume, and there are a number of brilliantly memorable moments. The scene of him shouting "UNEMPLOYED!" in a tight close-up at the book-keepers is hugely entertaining and wins over an audience immediately.

Although it is primarily a children's film, The Muppet Christmas Carol is not afraid to tackle the darker aspects of the story. Because it's the Muppets you're not going to see anything questionable, and even to talk about it in terms of 'fantasy violence' is to dress things up a bit too much. But there is an appropriately creepy Gothic side to the film, and it handles the darker aspects of the story much more ably than the recent Robert Zemeckis version. Death is only hinted at, but those hints are enough, and the film is on its surest footing with the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.

The design of The Muppet Christmas Carol is the key to understanding its successes and failures, and as with Zemeckis' version the film rises and falls on its portrayal of the ghosts. The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Future are very well-designed, the former as a childlike spirit recalling the paintings of L. S. Lowry. The latter is especially good, resembling a Ringwraith and being surrounded by Gothic churchyards and plenty of fog. There is something inherently creepy or eerie about a faceless ghost, and the film handles this very well.

But then we come to the Ghost of Christmas Present, and to the first problem with the film. Where the other two ghosts felt bespoke and purpose-made for the story, Christmas Present is a lot less memorable and a lot more annoying. Because the character has to age on screen, we are forced to confront the shortcomings of both puppetry and visual effects. The Ghost's disappearance is well-handled, but his sudden greyness after the flashback looks like someone dumped a vat of flour on him.

The present-day section of the story is the hardest to get right because it contains the moment where Scrooge has his change of heart; the final Ghost's actions are little more than a confirmation of his volte-face when faced with his own death. Despite the presence of Animal in a brief cameo, this section of the film is saggy and sentimental in a way which sits awkwardly with the attempts to send up Dickens' tale. In an age where Shrek has sent up so many of Disney's conventions, seeing the Tiny Tim sequence played straight is little short of toe-curling.

The songs in The Muppet Christmas Carol are a little hit-and-miss. When they work, they work well: 'Thankful Heart' has a good, hummable melody which captures the upbeat tone without overcooking the feel-good factor. 'One More Sleep 'Til Christmas' and 'There Goes Mr. Humbug' are fine, having their moments but being more sustained by visual gags than a compelling set of lyrics. But 'Bless Us All' feels forced and cloying, as if the writers were trying too hard to be charming, and as a result it comes across as quite the opposite.

Like the subsequent Muppet films, the film relies on the characters we know and love slotting into their allotted roles in the story. While in later films whole sequences had to be invented just to get Miss Piggy on the screen, in The Muppet Christmas Carol the characters fit like a glove. Gonzo treats Dickens' narrator with the tongue-in-cheek approach it deserves, and the double act he has with Rizzo works well. Kermit fits snugly into Bob Crackett, playing him as a well-meaning coward, and seeing him and Miss Piggy finally married on screen is something many fans had been waiting for years to see. As with Shrek, it works so long as you don't think too much about the children.

The film is also notable as a passing of the torch from Henson's personal involvement to the characters living on without him. Steven Whitmire, who took over the voice of Kermit, told a story of how Henson appeared to him in a dream and gave his blessing. The film is directed by Henson's son Brian, who would also direct Muppet Treasure Island, and of all the post-Henson films it is the best, being made with both charm and affection tied up in a tribute to the great man.

The Muppet Christmas Carol may not be the finest version of Dickens' story by any stretch of the imagination. Its weaknesses are obvious and older viewers may struggle to sit through its concessions to sentimentality. But as a means of introducing young children to the story, it is very good indeed. Michael Caine holds the film together with a fine performance and there is enough charm and well-meaning embedded in the film to tempt even the biggest miser to purchase a copy. Essential viewing.
MeetMeinMontauk
MeetMeinMontauk

Super Reviewer

May 24, 2009
This is the only version of A Christmas Carol I am willing to watch. Ever.
AC rating: Okay, I was REALLY shocked this had commentary. But wow was I pleased. And it was interesting! How actors work with puppets and I don't mean a few puppets, I mean a lot puppets! Very interesting. Very tedious. Henson studios are amazing!
sanjurosamurai
sanjurosamurai

Super Reviewer

January 15, 2007
probably the most fun version of a Christmas carol ever made. great humor, wonderful usage of all characters except the ghost of Christmas past, and a very faithful retelling of the book. where the film diverted from the book the filmmakers made creative and worthy choices. michael caine is forced to compete on screen with a bunch of muppets, and absolutely shines as one of the best scrooge performances of all time. while many scrooges are formulaic and stale as they simply recite familiar lines, caine was fresh and emotional and effectively evil as scrooge, while making his redemption very believable. excellent version of the great classic.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

August 20, 2006
One of the most brilliant adaptations of Dickens' classic. The inclusion of the Muppets adds to the heartwarming feel of the film. There's something about Beaker's offering of a red scarf to Scrooge, that has more of an emotional impact than any human could hope to achieve. The film also does a wonderful job at subduing the episodic nature of the story, by using Gonzo's narration and a selection of wonderful songs to bridge the gaps. At the front of all this greatness though is Michael Caine who gives an unbelievable performance. His Scrooge is one of great cruelty, but one with an edge of charm that we can relate to. This makes his gradual transformation into the Christmas loving bloke, all the more believable. His delivery of every line is memorable as are the relationships he builds with the 3 spirits. The Muppets are also well cast, this may sound daft, but it would have been so easy to slip pre-existing Muppets into the roles of the 3 spirits. Instead we get 3 new and very suitable creations. This was a childhood favourite that I will never grow out of.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

September 22, 2009
I?m glad the Muppets didn?t die when Jim Henson did. His son did a good job here but it?s not quite the same! I still love the Muppets though!
Phil H

Super Reviewer

August 8, 2007
Ahhh the best Muppet flick, truely cozy, warming, fun, loving, funny and great songs. The whole idea is such a winner, I love Gonzo and Rizzo telling the story, they really are funny. What better way to spend a cold snowy night in.
Ken S

Super Reviewer

March 24, 2007
My favorite Christmas Movie
Jason S

Super Reviewer

December 27, 2006
Michael Caine was excellent in this flick. He played it straight and hard making it seem like he wasn't acting opposite a bunch of muppets but other people in a serious version of the story.
The music is catchy and all the muppets were cast in the familiar parts very well. This is an excellent one for the family during the Christmas season.
Lafe F

Super Reviewer

June 27, 2007
A special pairing of the Muppets and "A Christmas Carol". Looney Tunes and Disney did it, so why not the Muppets too? It was fun to see how all our Muppet faves played the story out. Michael Caine made a great Scrooge. Having humans interacting with Muppets is the strength of the whole franchise. It's not as classic as "Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas", but it'll entertain around Christmas viewing time.
puffchunk
puffchunk

Super Reviewer

June 21, 2007
It's in the singing of a street corner choir.
Megan S

Super Reviewer

February 9, 2007
To steal someone else's review: "Christmas is not Christmas until I watch this movie." Oh and look for the scene where Beaker flips off Scrooge (okay so he only has two fingers so that's not really possibly but that's what it seems like).
Stuart B

Super Reviewer

January 8, 2007
I love the Muppets, how can anyone not?
Sophie B

Super Reviewer

December 29, 2006
love this its so funny!!!
Sarah G

Super Reviewer

September 12, 2006
Think i might have seen it at some point
Jeremy S

Super Reviewer

March 27, 2006
The muppets always make me laugh, Christmas Carol one of the best muppet movies.
Dann M

Super Reviewer

December 25, 2011
Charles Dickens and the Muppets come together in the most magical way to create a brilliant rendition of the beloved classic, A Christmas Carol. With Brian Henson at the helm, the Muppets brave a new world and deliver an enchanting film that's inspired and charming. The Muppet Christmas Carol is a wonderfully fun and faithful adaptation that truly captures the spirit of the tale. What's striking is just how faithful an adaptation this is; going so far as to include a Charles Dickens narrator (in the form of Gonzo the Great) who recites passages from the novel. But even more amazing, is how well each Muppet is tailored to a Dickens character; from Kermit as Bob Cratchit to Statler and Waldorf as the Marleys. And once more, the music is outstanding and is in perfect harmony with the mood and tone of the Dickens story. The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best adaptation of Dickens's classic bar none, and is a touching and heartfelt film that carries the spirit of the season.
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