Dave and Rachel's movie reviews.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Year: 1992
Running time: 85 minutes
Certificate: U
Language: English
Screenplay: Jerry Juhl
Director: Brian Henson
Starring: Michael Caine, Steven Mackintosh, Meredith Braun, Raymond Coulthard, (voices) Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson

"Marley & Marley".
I was never really a big fan of The Muppets when I was a kid; I always found it kind of boring. When I got a little older I started to have an appreciation for the characters, the cameos and the comedy, which mixed broad strokes of mapcap zany slapstick for kids, but retained a tongue-in-cheek knowing wink, helping to make it accessible for all. However mixed my feelings for the show in general, I will always love this film.

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843, and it is a testament to its brilliance that even now it remains a staple of the traditional Christmas period. It taps into that feeling that is particular to this time of year, that of goodwill and kindness stepping to the forefront. No matter how despicable Scrooge is in the beginning, he is a character to root for - you really want him to come to the realisation that acting like Donald Trump is really no way to live your life. The message, that one should take this feeling and keep it the year round is a powerful one that too many people ignore.

Gonzo as Dickens as narrator.
There is a huge number of adaptations of A Christmas Carol, so in order to standout from the crowd, new twists must be employed (like Scrooged, which successfully transplanted the story into a contemporary setting, turned it into a comedy and had the stroke of genius that was casting Bill Murray as Scrooge). The Muppet Christmas Carol certainly does that - while there have been musical versions and comedy versions before, using the Muppets to make a musical comedy version is one of those perfect ideas that is so obvious with hindsight, it is amazing it wasn't thought of before 1992. It has some outstanding casting ideas - Gonzo was, apparently, born to play Dickens, brilliantly funny writing (“Light the lamp, not the rat, light the lamp, not the rat!”), good musical numbers, in particular the song sung by the ghost of Christmas present (voiced by Jerry Nelson), which reiterates the lesson to keep the way you feel at Christmas throughout the year in the line "It's true wherever you find love it feels like Christmas".

The masterstroke is the casting of Michael Caine to fill the slippers of the famous old grouch - despite being in a musical comedy version aimed mostly at children, Caine's Scrooge is one of the most affecting - he does a fine job of bringing out the heart of Dickens' story, despite acting mostly opposite felt.

The best muppet movie and up there with the best versions of A Christmas Carol.

Score: 7/10

As you might expect, those who don't fall for for this heartwarming adaptation are few and far between, as shown by these reviews by Ian and Groucho Reviews.