The ultimate Christmas film and the perfect time to watch it, here’s some reasons why I love THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL…
THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL captures the life, love and spirit of Christmas. It is, of course, adapted from the timeless Charles Dickens novel and was originally intended to be directed by the genius of Jim Henson. However, Brian Henson – his son – took charge soon after the untimely death of his father and what a distinctive, timeless movie he created.
What makes this particular version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ extra special is how it appeals to children and adults alike. Keeping that Dickensian core of the importance of character and narrative, it’s told by Gonzo as Charles Dickens and proud, wise-cracking assistant Rizzo the Rat.
We are first introduced to Scrooge, a miserable and callous man, played impressively and imposingly by Michael Caine in true Muppet style by the medium of song. Scrooge is a gloomy soul who won’t even stretch to another shovel of coal for his frozen rat workers…cue the witty line “This is our island…in the sun!” and the visual treat of rats in Hawaiian gear as they don’t want to be fired.
Of course, this is very much the beginning of his journey. Over the course of the night he’ll be visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and here’s where Henson’s talents come further into play. First up is the animated and eerie, ghost-like child showing Scrooge his past. What follows is a jolly and literally giant creation that shows him all the edges of good things at present but then his night is ended by the deathly, cloaked and extremely unnerving ghost of Christmas future, the latter really hitting home what Scrooge needs to change before his life is over.
All the Muppets involved are perfectly cast. The well-known theatre dwelling Statler and Wardorf are his ex-business partners Marley and Marley who literally scare him with the chains of regret. We’ve got singing vegetables, charming families of mice begging for more cheese, the annual Penguin Christmas skating party and the fantastic moment when Gonzo accidentally lights Rizzo instead of his lamp which leads to “Light the lamp, not the rat, light the lamp, not the rat!!” before he’s shoved off into a frozen bucket of ice. Don’t forget, very importantly, Kermit as Bob Cratchit married to Miss Piggy with all their –possibly bizarre- frog/pig offspring and the consequential good fortune that will eventually come their way for Scrooge changing his ways.
There’s also those additional, special Muppet touches like Sam the Eagle saying ‘It is the American way…’ and getting a nudge to change it to “It’s the British way” plus Rizzo kissing Gonzo on the nose to apologise after he jumps off the top of the gate, which looks like ad lib, when he could have walked through it on the ground.
THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL is the epitome of a perfect family film that transcends that adult and child boundary in storytelling and film making. It also reminds us of the true meaning of this holiday season, which is about giving, charity, family and hope for coming year ahead. If you don’t love THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL and everything it has to offer then Bah Humbug!
Just before you go…It must be noted that every film we’ve covered here on The Hollywood News in our advent countdown holds a special place in this holiday season. From opening with Bruce Willis as John McClane in the classic DIE HARD to Dan Ackroyd losing sanity in TRADING PLACES. We saw more actors dressed as Santa than we can count, rejoiced over the still relevant MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET and didn’t stumble on our praise for the inventiveness and slapstick of HOME ALONE. We squeezed into the Christmas sock every genre including horror, animation plus the madness of CHRISTMAS VACATION and SCROOGED right up to the emotive humanity of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.
[Originally posted on TheHollywoodNews]