Monday, December 14, 2015

Movie Review: The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Walt Disney Pictures, Jim Henson Productions, USA, 1992.
The Muppet Christmas Carol title
Based on the novel "Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens (The Great Gonzo) and Rizzo the Rat tell the story of mean moneylender Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine). Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog) works as his clerk. Scrooge's nephew Fred (Steven Mackintosh) is his complete opposite, poor but cheerful. He invites Scrooge to spend Christmas with him and his wife Clara (Robin Weaver).
Charles Dickens (Gonzo) & Rizzo
Michael Caine
Two gentlemen (Dr. Bunsen & Beaker) come to collect money for charity but Scrooge drives them out. Not even cute bunny can melt Scrooge's heart. Begrudgingly he allows the office to stay closed on Christmas Day so Bob can spend Christmas with his family.
Dr. Bunsen & Beaker
Bean Bunny
Cratchit family
Scrooge's deceased business partners Jacob and Robert Marley (Statler and Waldorf) appear as chained ghosts. Soon three other ghosts will visit Scrooge. Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge's lonely childhood and his first job in Fozziewig's (Fozzie Bear) rubber chicken factory.  Scrooge sees how he lost lovely Belle (Meredith Braun). 
Jacob and Robert Marley (Statler and Waldorf)
Ghost of Christmas Present shows how Cratchit-family spends Christmas. Bob is married to Emily (Miss Piggy) and they have two pigs and two frogs. Tiny Tim (Robin the Frog) is ill and will probably die if the family continues to live in poverty. 
Choir kids
Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge the terrible future that will happen if he continues to be stingy and cruel.
Rizzo the Rat: Boy, that's scary stuff! Should we be worried about the kids in the audience?
Gonzo: Nah, it's all right. This is culture!

To avoid the horrible future Scrooge decides to spread Christmas joy to the whole city.
Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
This follows surprisingly faithfully the quite dark Dickens' story but with added cheer from the Muppets. Except for Gonzo and Rizzo the Muppets mayhem is toned down as it takes the story seriously. The ghosts look freaky, especially Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come who looks like Harry Potter's Dementor. Ghost of Christmas Present on the other hand is a jolly giant dwarf. The scary scenes are balanced by cheerful crowds of familiar Muppets and fourth-wall breaking narration by Gonzo. The songs are funny and many even touching. The Muppet-singers are great fun to watch, there are even singing vegetables. Sadly DVD-versions lack "When Love is Gone" sung by Belle. Michael Caine had it hard time getting good roles in the early 1990s so his role as Scrooge brought a welcome lift to his career.

Rating: Very good

Starring: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Frank Oz, David Rudman, Don Austen, Jessica Fox, Robert Tygner, Steven Mackintosh, Meredith Braun, Robin Weaver, Raymond Coulthard, Russell Martin, Theo Sanders, Kristopher Milnes, Edward Sanders, Anthony Hamblin, Fergus Brazier, William Todd-Jones, Mike Quinn, Karen Prell, Louise Gold
Director: Brian Henson

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