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THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL1992
G

"If I could work my will, every idiot who goes around with a 'Merry Christmas' on his lips would be cooked with his own turkey and buried with a stake of holly through his heart."
-- Ebenezer Scrooge
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a 1992 comedy film directed by Brian Henson that serves as the Muppets' retelling of the classic Charles Dickens tale. The Great Gonzo (voiced by Dave Goelz) serves as our narrator as he tells us the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine), the meanest man in the city of London who has no time for the Christmas holiday. One early Christmas morning, he is visited by the ghosts of his old partners Jacob and Robert Marley (Waldorf and Statler, respectively), who tell Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits during the middle of the night. The first, the Ghost of Christmas Past, shows him his boyhood memories and the tale of love lost. Then, he is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present, who shows Scrooge the family of his top employee Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog) as they celebrate the holiday the best they can despite their poverty. Finally, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who shows him what lie ahead in his life should he refrain from changing his ways.

Because there has been so many different incarnations of Dickens's classic tale, I had quite a difficult time deciding which I wanted to watch this holiday season. However, I finally made the decision on the Muppet's version considering I ran across a cheap copy of the DVD a few months ago and had to pick it up. With it being so conveniently available in my own personal collection, I had no choice but to give this one a view. While I know I've seen this film before, it must've been years and years ago when I actually had the opportunity to watch it all the way through. And having just watched the new Muppets film last night, I thought now would be as good a time as any to re-watch this one.

Because this is such a classic tale, it's difficult to decide whether the screenplay actually works all that well without comparing it to the other Christmas Carol films I've seen in the past. The story itself is the basic story we've all grown to know and love, but having the Muppets in the film just seems to make it all the more jolly and fun. However, there doesn't seem to be much of a Muppet emphasis, so to speak. In a sense, it's almost as though the Muppets are regular actors portraying the characters from the story rather than having them be incorporated into the story itself. Each character - except for Rizzo the Rat - embodies a character from the story rather than their own personality. I suppose I was just hoping that the filmmakers might add a Muppet touch to the story, but instead, we're just getting the story as told by Muppets. I hope I've made all that clear.

The acting is actually pretty good considering the type of fare we're receiving. To be fair, the Muppets are the Muppets, so the only real "actor" otherwise in the film is Michael Caine. However, he turns in a splendid performance as the miserly old Ebenezer, and his transformation from hardened old man to joyous lover of life is truly splendid to behold.

The film is also a musical, as the Muppets movies generally are, and we're getting a couple decent original songs throughout the movie. Be on the listen for the opening number entitled "Scrooge," as well as the songs "One More Sleep 'Til Christmas" and "When Love Is Gone," which plays almost like the film's theme.

Ultimately, The Muppet Christmas Carol is a fine retelling of a wonderful holiday classic. Even though the Muppets don't necessarily take over the film, it's still nice to see them grace the screen. If anything, this film should serve as a fantastic entry into the story for younger audiences, who will enjoy the characters and the music. Perhaps it will help them get into the story and, ultimately, into higher forms of literature from there. I suppose we can only hope.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: B
1.5 Thumbs Up