Friday, December 31, 2021

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

The Muppets enjoyed a healthy life on TV before Jim Henson ended the series, not wishing it to overstay its welcome. Thankfully the beloved characters have never faded from view, getting a solid run of feature films throughout the years. Many are classics in their own right, and considered one of the best is The Muppet Christmas Carol...

Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old man-Bitterly resentful towards Christmas and all his fellow man, and interested only in his money. One Christmas Eve however will be very different, as he is met with a strange apparition. The ghosts of his old business partners warn Scrooge he will be visited by three spirits

The Muppet Christmas Carol has well and truly earned its status as a classic, in more ways than one. It's a great film in its own right, it's a fantastic Muppet adventure, and is also considered one of the best adaptions of the Charles Dickens classic!

The story is a fairly straightforward adaption, going across all the familiar story beats. While A Christmas Carol wasn't a comedy, this version does well transplanting funny moments without getting in the way or spoiling the plot.

Where it excels, most surprisingly of all, is the drama! This manages to be one of the more hard-hitting Christmas Carol's, and there's one spot in particular that gets quite heavy! The presence of Muppets in these scenes doesn't sap any of the drama away. Just the opposite, it might be even more dramatic, seeing these moments play out with these familiar characters,

The Muppet Christmas Carol perfectly embodies the holiday season, and its themes are timeless and heartfelt. Bound to bring a smile to the faces of anyone but the most heartless.

Ebenezer Scrooge succeeds in being an unlikaeble humbug, but in a way that's fun to watch. Moments of humanity help endear him, especially as the film reaches its conclusion, and we really believe he's a changed man by the end.

The Muppets are all well chosen, with Kermit the Frog making for a good Bob Cratchit, Doctors Bunsen and Beaker as the two charity collectors, Statler and Waldorff as the twin Marleys, and most genius of all is the serendipitous pun of Fozziwig. Gonzo and Rizzo are fun narrators, and know just when to speak, and when to stay quiet.

The effects in any Muppet movie is the most important, and Christmas Carol knocks it out of the park! All the familiar Muppets are looking as great as ever, and they have such life to them. All of the original designs are fun too, with some of the cutest mice you'll ever see! The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future are each unique and distinctive, and have a nice mix of wonder and foreboding

The set design is breathtaking too. 19th century London is recreated perfectly, and manages to accommodate both humans and Muppets, without ever looking unconvincing, due to some clever design and direction. The wintery feel is perfectly maintained, and there's never a moment where Christmas doesn't pour from the screen.

The cast here is a great one. The voice actors all do fantastic jobs as their various characters, bringing the Muppets to life. Michael Caine is predominately the only human on display, and does splendidly, with a bitter coldness, gripping emotion, and a lovely warmth by the end. His philosophy on playing the part is as fantastic as it is funny to hear. In his own words, "I'm going to play this movie like I'm working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink, I will never do anything Muppety. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role and there are no puppets around me.

And lastly, the music. There are several songs throughout, by Paul Williams, and all are fun, sweet, and balanced at a good rate throughout. Highlights are One More Sleep Till Christmas, and the rousing ending number of Thankful Heart.

One point of interest is a musical sequence that got removed for many years, When Love is Gone. Some fans have long lamented its excision, as have the cast and crew, and one one hand I agree, although I also think it is a bit of a long distraction from the Muppets and the story. It's still a great song and moment though, so as long as it's always available in some form to watch, I am glad.

The Muppet Christmas Carol comes heartily recommended from me, for any time of the year, but especially during the holiday season. I can't think of a more perfect way to spend your Christmas morning than by popping this on...

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