Monday, December 11, 2017

MLEEP Reviews: The Muppet Christmas Carol - 25 Years Of Muppet Merriment

Written By Jerry Juhl/Based On 'A Christmas Carol' By Charles Dickens
Composed By Miles Goodman
Produced By Brian Henson & Martin G. Baker
Edited By Michael Jablow
Directed By Brian Henson

The story of 'A Christmas Carol' is one that we know all too well around this time of year because I think we have all met someone like Ebenezer Scrooge who just couldn't get in the heart of the holidays at some point in our lives and pretty much everyone has taken their shot at telling this classic tale throughout the years from Mickey Mouse to Thomas The Tank Engine to My Little Pony and even The Muppets...and in celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary, that is the version we'll be taking a look at today.  It's so interesting that this was the introduction to the story for so many kids that grew up in the 1990's like I did and truth be told that it's not a bad version to be introduced to...but now that twenty five years have gone by, does it still hold up and is it the best way to be introduced to the classic Charles Dickens tale?  Let's find out, this is 'The Muppet Christmas Carol'!

It's kinda pointless to go over the story seeing as there's probably two of you that don't know it, but I'll be the Muppets take on the Charles Dickens tale, Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Michael Caine) is the town's most hated man with a real hate for Christmas.  When his employee Bob Cratchit (played by Kermit The Frog...and yes, I know someone else plays Kermit-but come on, work with me here!) tries to get Christmas Day off to spend with his family and after Scrooge begrudgingly agrees, he's visited by the ghosts of his old business partners Jacob and Robert Marley (played by Statler and Waldorf) who tell him that he will be haunted by three ghosts that night-these are of course the Ghosts Of Christmas Past, Present And Future...and while showing him just that, Scrooge begins to realize the importance of Christmas.

The film is pretty by the book in following the original story especially when you really get to take a look at the sets and colorful atmosphere since it's clear that the focus of the movie was not to tell a great Muppet film but rather a decent version of 'A Christmas Carol'...which I feel can turn some people off from the movie if they were fans of the first three Muppet movies before this film came out for the many comedic moments.  If you saw the Muppets do 'A Christmas Carol' on The Muppet Show, you'd know that everything would go wrong with how their personalities would get in the way and it would be a crazy mess of things exploding and falling apart...but it has to be done seriously here and I have to give major praise and kudos to the Muppets for not only breaking the norm of your traditional Muppet movie but adding in some very creative new elements to their adaptation of the story that a lot of other versions should consider including as well-one of my favorite additions being that the Ghost Of Christmas Present has a bad memory because he's always living in the present thus resulting in repeating things like introducing himself twice or repeating a sentence that he already said.

Every version of 'A Christmas Carol' needs a Scrooge and Michael Caine is easily one that a lot of people are split on when it comes to his performance.  While he does have the threatening look and stamina of a proper Scrooge, a lot of people feel that he's either not trying or he's phoning it in a lot of the time especially during the scene where Scrooge breaks down and changes his ways when he sees his name on the tombstone...I'm sorry but if the scene of him singing a duet with his past love and getting more and more emotional as it goes on doesn't convince you he's trying his hardest, then I don't know what will...and speaking of the musical numbers, that's the half of Michael Caine's performance that a lot of people think is good because he does put a lot of passion into his voice and sounds very joyful especially when singing the final song 'Thankful Heart'.

But when we were kids, we didn't come to this movie to see Michael Caine-we came to see the Muppets!  Like I said earlier, the Muppets do fine especially with how they play the roles of the characters that we know and love from the book like with Gonzo and Rizzo as the narrators who constantly get beaten up throughout the movie...but the one that has me pissing my pants with laughter the most is Fozzie as-get this-Fozziwig!  I swear, this whole movie was put together just so they could do that pun...and even if it's not like your traditional Muppet movie, I still give major praise and kudos to them for trying to do something a little more serious since they do address the dark stuff and still kill off Tiny Tim...and I'm not gonna lie-when I found out that Jerry Nelson (the Muppeteer for Robin at the time) sadly passed away on the year of the film's twentieth anniversary, the scene where they show Tiny Tim's hat and crutch by the fireplace has hit me in the feels ever since then.

Overall...if you're sick and tired of hearing the dialogue from 'A Christmas Carol' word for word over and over again and everyone doing their own adaptation in the hopes that it will the one faithful adaptation that everyone wants to see, 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' probably isn't going to sway you...but if you are a big fan of the classic story like I am, you might find quite a few alterations that you might worth it-the kids will enjoy the Muppets, the adults will enjoy the jokes and the Christmas lovers will enjoy Christmas.  Merry Christmas, everyone!