The Muppet Christmas Carol Reviews

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December 13, 2014
As hard and as ruthless as a rose pedal...

The Muppets retell the tail of Ebenezer Scrooge from the infamous Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Story. We see Scrooge (as a human, not a Muppet) surrounded by Muppets that either work for him or owe him money. Scrooge is a ruthless man despite the kindness of the Muppets; however, Scrooge will be visited by three ghosts who hope to change his path before it is too late.

"If he came in a flavor you can bet it would be sour."

Brian Henson, director of Muppet Treasure Island, Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story, and episodes of Sid the Science Kid, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, and Dinosaurs, delivers A Muppet Christmas Carol. The storyline for this picture is fun and very well delivered; while it follows the original plot, it has its own fun Muppet spin. I also loved Michael Caine playing Scrooge (perfect choice).

"Why are you whispering?"
"For dramatic emphasis."

This is another film my daughter and I grabbed off Netflix and adored watching together (she was totally wrapped up in the characters and story). The Muppets are so fun and the mix of comedy with the entertaining Muppets in unique settings was beautiful. I strongly recommend seeing this and potentially adding it to your DVD collection to watch with your children annually.

"I'm a stone you can't squeeze blood from."

Grade: A
December 17, 2007
Easily the best Christmas Carol in my book. The songs are fun and the muppets give this version a playful edge to the melancholy of most takes. I loved it as a child and even more as an adult. The people who think this version isn't enjoyable are Scrooges in their own right!
November 29, 2014
I know it's not a perfect movie, but it has so much nostalgia. I watch it every year and sing-a-long as I do so. This is one of my favorite Muppet movies of all time.
November 17, 2014
Muppets. A Christmas Carol. Michael Caine. Need I say more?
November 27, 2011
This was one of my childhood favorites. I just watched it again for the first time in probably at least ten years, and I actually thought it was better than I remembered it being. The music is fantastic, and the lightheartedness is great for the whole family.
October 11, 2014
My favorite Muppets movie. Michael Caine is pitch-perfect as Ebenezer Scrooge, and the Muppets do a great job playing all the other characters in the story, particularly Kermit and Miss Piggy as Bob and Mrs. Cratchit. 10/10.
December 22, 2011
Sometime after Jim Henson's death, his son Brian would go on to direct two Muppet movies based on literary works. The first of these, THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, which recounts the familiar story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge's fateful Christmas Eve journey to his past, present, and future, respectively, is a genuine delight. The marriage between Dickens' immortal tale and the Muppets' humor is perfectly realized in this 90-minute musical, highlighted by both a holiday-flavored score from Paul Williams, and especially a strong turn from Michael Caine as Scrooge. His performance deserves a shout-out. Instead of mugging the camera or going for laughs, he plays the role both well and with enthusiasm, even treating his Muppet co-stars like real people. This helps make the atmosphere of people and puppets interacting believable and it lends credibility to the emotional arc of the story. The film also has some surprisingly heartfelt, moving moments that are played very straight -- the scene in the future where the Cratchit's mourn their son's death is tearjerking, as is Scrooge's long-lost love's ballad "When Love is Gone" (cruelly cut from subsequent releases of the film). As for the Muppets, they are perfectly assigned to the roles they are chosen to portray. Kermit the Frog, surprise, plays Bob Cratchit, and of course Miss Piggy is his wife (and yes, we get to see their offspring), and in a particularly amusing touch, Gonzo portrays Charles Dickens, who narrates the story (using actual passages from Dickens' book) to a skeptical Rizzo the Rat. The chemistry between these two is hilarious and adds another layer of entertainment to the film. What's also fun is the way that they comment on the story's appeal for audiences and how storytellers are genuinely omniscient. Not only one of the best holiday family movies of all time, but one of the Muppets' best movies ever.
February 14, 2010
(First viewing - Childhood)
June 17, 2014
This is an extremely odd to say, especially since this is the muppets we're talking about, but I think this is one of the best versions of A Christmas Carol put to film. It's heartwarming, funny, occasionally irreverent, and it stays true to the spirit of the book. Great songs and an unforgettable warmth. Only a few other versions are as complete and as powerful as this one.
June 17, 2014
If I had to rank all the Muppet movies, I'm only missing the most recent film, Most Wanted, from worst-to-best it'd be in this order: Muppets From Space, Muppet Treasure Island, this movie, The Great Muppet Caper, Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Movie, and the excellent 2011 reboot. So you can see that this is a middle of the road, in terms of quality, for the Muppets. With that said, it's still a pretty good movie. The problem is that, while A Christmas Carol is STILL an excellent story of a man's redemption, I don't think the Muppets really work well when trying to fit into the framework of a story that's been told thousands and thousands of times. There's still the musical numbers, there's still the clever humor that breaks the fourth wall, Miss Piggy is still great...there's just less of it this time around, because they're working within the confines of this book. Not that I can blame them for that, but it's still a little disappointing that there wasn't as much Muppet greatness as there is in other, original, films. With that said, if there's one thing I liked about this movie more than any adaptation of A Christmas Carol I've ever seen, and that is Michael Caine's performance. I think he's, head and shoulders, the best Ebenezer Scrooge there has been. I think his performance isn't as notable because he IS surrounded by Muppets and all this absurd humor, but that doesn't make it any less effective or heartfelt. This guy is incredible here. It's not anything Oscar worthy, but it is an excellent performance that makes this film worth it even with its flaws. It's probably not even the best adaptation of this story that has ever been made. I even thought about it raising the rating to 3.5, but I genuinely think this film is just good. I just think the lack of real Muppet insanity held this movie back for me. But that's just me. But this is a good movie nonetheless, this story will always bee a good one and with Caine's excellent performance, then this is at least worth a watch.
½ May 11, 2014
OK WOW! Some of these critics must pass around some really good drugs or something to kick the percentage down to 69%. This film had a great production value, wonderful songs, and still tried to stay true to the book while at the same time giving it a little Muppet flare/sparkle and humor that audiences know and love. Micheal Caine does a great job playing a Muppet movie as a human role should be. Play it straight, play it real, be in the film the same way you would be with other actors not just Muppets. This was the first film after the sad passing of Jim Henson. A serious amount of work went into this film to still make it what Jim would have wanted. A lot was on the line and needed to be proven and boy did they deliver!

I made this account on this site only because I could not believe the low percentage when I saw it and just couldn't sit still. I am sure I will be labeled an "Muppet Fan Boy" and I do enjoy the films, The Great Muppet Caper is not that stellar in my opinion so I understood the low percentage but this for me just could not stand.

Thank you for your time.


October 7, 2013
Despite having its slow moments, it's a great movie to watch during for holidays. It also gets the bad taste of The Muppets Take Manhattan's songs out of my mouth.
½ May 22, 2012
While there are better adaptations of this Dickens classic, and better Muppet movies for that matter, 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' succeeds on many levels. It's filled with great songs, funny gags, and not to mention, a truly great performance by Michael Caine as Scrooge, rivaling those of even Sir Patrick Stewart and George C. Scott.
½ March 21, 2014
This is a good version of the classic tale.
½ September 8, 2009
One of the most faithful retellings of Dickens' tale. The unexpected somber tone is appropriate for this first Muppet film in the post-Jim Henson era.
February 27, 2014
Michael Caine is marvelous as Scrooge, but his performance is severely diminished by the Muppets, sad to say.
½ January 23, 2014
Let's not beat around the bush. I adore The Muppet Christmas Carol. Since my parents bought it for me on VHS back in 1993, it is the only Christmas film that I make a point of watching at least once every year. Taking one of the greatest stories ever written from one of the greatest writers of all time and making at least a half-decent film out of it shouldn't be too hard a task. Yet, there are films out there which have completely failed to make anything decent out of Dickens' story and some have even managed to somehow make it boring.

The biggest problem anyone faces with adapting A Christmas Carol is making it stand out from the other versions of it. To say there's an overabundance of adaptations is a radical understatement. On that basis, you'd think that one of the key ways to help your version stand out is by adopting a gimmick. There's so many failed examples of this though. The last high-profile adaptation was Robert Zemeckis' take on the story with Jim Carrey as Scrooge. The gimmick? Motion capture animation and 3D. Exactly what the story didn't need. Elsewhere, you've got modernizations, a potentially decent idea, but I can't name one that worked. I know some will stand up for Scrooged, but, for me, it was OK at best. Then there's A Christmas Carol 2000, in which ITV decided that a modernization with Ross Kemp playing Scrooge was a good idea.

It wasn't.

So, why does The Muppet Christmas Carol work? The main reason is it's refusal to resort to any level of pretentiousness, a real sticking point for some of the worst versions of the story. Here, there is no belief present that they can add anything to the story or make it better, because they know that they can't. Instead, they take the story and everything that's great about it. Then, most crucially of all, they make sure that The Muppets themselves are made to fit around the story, rather than the other way round. I'm not providing a synopsis. If you don't know the plot, where have you been? In addition, I'm also not going to worry too much about avoiding spoilers from this point on.

In this adaptation, Michael Caine plays Scrooge and, frankly, it's inspired casting. Scrooge is a character that demands an actor with credibility, but the presence of The Muppets would mean that a lot of actors out there would not have taken this role seriously and would have completely phoned in the performance. Caine's not doing that here. He's crafting what I honestly believe to be one of his best performances. The usual style of performance for Caine wouldn't have worked here and it's refreshing to see little to none of his usual mannerisms present here. He delivers a fantastic interpretation and one that feels human, rather than the overly animated cartoonish performances (hello again, Jim Carrey) that we often find ourselves subjected to. That's not to say he's relatable. He's every bit as reprehensible as he should be, but because he seems like a real person, it means that his development over the course of the film feels legitimate and, in no way, forced. As for his singing and dancing, you'll just have to learn to forgive him for that and realize that it could be worse, you could be watching him in Jaws IV.

The presence of Caine also helps in another matter, as he makes sure the story is respected, allowing a balance to form between that and the antics of The Muppets, who fill most of the other roles. Kermit takes the biggest role of Bob Cratchitt and is really the only instance of a Muppet playing it straight, with the exception of a Kermit Jr. playing Tiny Tim. Elsewhere, the Muppets are pretty much kept to the comedy characters, as they should be. Rizzo's playing the sidekick to Gonzo's narrative performance as Charles Dickens and while Fozziwig may seem an obvious joke, it's a necessary one.

To be honest, the only place where the presence of a Muppet is fumbled is in Miss Piggy playing Emily Cratchit, or rather Miss Piggy playing Miss Piggy, but going by the name of Emily Cratchit. The jokes work fine for her. Piggy's not exactly my favourite Muppet, but the traditional and necessary elements of her character worked here. The problem is when they expect us to take her seriously as the grieving mother. It just doesn't work and renders what should be one of the most poignant moments of the story feeling a little bit hokey. To be honest though, it probably won't bother you too much and, as my score will demonstrate, it's not something that gets held against the film. In the long run, it's a minor gripe.

Then, we have the Muppet-style comedy transitioning into the Dickensian world and there's only one word to describe how they've handled this. Masterful. First off, it;s actually funny. A requirement that shouldn't need stating about comedy, but I watched Disaster Movie last week and learnt that, apparently, it does. There's also the flawless way that each joke fits into the story without feeling like it's intruding. Each joke is fast and to the point and, crucially, they don't dwell on them. The joke happens, you laugh and they head straight back to the story, meaning that the focus is never lost. They also don't feel the need to saturate every scene with them. The 15 (or so) minutes assigned to The Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come is pretty much devoid of jokes, relying almost entirely on the words of Dickens to bring out any humour, but, for the most part, keeping the necessarily morbid tone that the scenes require. As a result, that element of the story feels particularly powerful, as we're left to focus on Scrooge's despaired realization of where his actions will take him. If the earlier jokes weren't funny, this wouldn't have felt anywhere near as strong as it did and it also wouldn't provide the relief and joy of the final moments as we return to the jovial nature that dominates the rest of the film.

Finally, there are the songs. I'll say it now. Musicals are not my thing. I would much rather someone just tell me how they feel, rather than sing it to me. Yet, despite that, I love a lot of the songs from the film. I'm sure it helps that I first heard them when I was 6 and far less discerning than I am now, but regardless they are well written songs and my only issue comes from the deletion of one of them. Again, this is not something I will hold against the film as it is entirely down to studio interference, rather than creative choice. The song that's deleted is called When Love Is Gone. It's not the best song and it's almost overbearingly shmaltzy. Despite this, removing it causes far more issues than the quality of the song ever would. The most noticeable is a jarring edit, one of the worst I've ever seen in my life. Even if you haven't seen this film with the song included, you'll almost definitely still notice it and it won't sit right with you. Added to this are the facts that it almost makes the entire character of Belle border on pointless as she's gone faster than she arrives, as well as rendering the whole point of the film's final song effectively moot.

I found myself not sure how to end this review, because I kind of stated my conclusion in my introduction. I also would like to think that my love of this film has been summed up. So, I'll end with this. This review is my first perfect score that I've posted. This is probably more to do with the fact that it's Christmas time more than anything else. When I think about it though, The Muppet Christmas Carol is probably the first film I ever saw that I would have given a perfect score back then and still give a perfect score to now. On that basis, I think it's a fairly appropriate first.
½ January 4, 2014
You know; the Muppets, in this one, came to life
January 3, 2014
A dull and tedious effort. Even the fabulous Miss Piggy cannot cheer things up. The only plus points are the delightful songs written by Paul Williams and the creative cinematography. But these elements are insufficient to lift the Christmas spirits.
½ December 28, 2013
A surprisingly decent adaptation, The Muppet Christmas Carol is funny, nicely scripted, and features a typically great performance from Michael Caine.
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