Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 20

           I'm trying something different to get in the holiday spirit this year. Every day, from now through Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and am drawing one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. Day twenty is coming in hot!

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

           This pick represents a number of milestones for this list. First, as stated yesterday, this marks two-thirds of this project completed. I wasn't sure I would make it this far when I first started out. Second, this is the last of the four features that include Muppets. (A fact that my girlfriend will be relieved by.) Lastly, it is the final feature to be an adaptation of A Christmas Carol. With a feeling of pride over tackling all of those milestones, let us begin.


           Sticking with the pattern that has developed when it comes to adaptations of A Christmas Carol, I am going to focus on what makes this version unique rather than do a point by point synopsis. The biggest difference from other versions is that the film features Gonzo in the role of Charles Dickens (a blue, furry Charles Dickens who hangs out with a rat). He acts as the narrator through the proceedings of the film and works to bring in much of the actual text of the original story. Like most other Muppet films, the movie is a musical. The songs are fairly catchy, though there could stand to be one or two more given its runtime. One extra song was filmed but cut from the theatrical release; it appears on home releases and does much to alleviate this minor gripe. (Though, unless you have the Laser-Disc, it means you have to watch it in 4:3. So...) Other than those, the changes are minor. Jacob Marley becomes Jacob and Robert Marley to allow Statler and Waldorf to portray them. Fezziwig becomes Fozziwig and so on. Beyond that it is a surprisingly faithful adaptation given the fact that most of the characters are puppets. 

Rizzo is incredulous of Gonzo's claim of being Charles Dickens.

Final Thoughts

           As ridiculous as it may sound, this is probably my favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol. There are others that hew closer to the source material, the George C. Scott version comes to mind. However, it is not like A Christmas Carol is that long of a read. If I want absolute accuracy, I'll just read the book. Given that, this version is a fun, lively affair. Two things make it really stand out for me. The first is Gonzo as Charles Dickens. Having him tell the story and banter back with Rizzo really shouldn't work as well as it does but it ends up being one of the most fun parts of the movie. Adding in some of Dickens' actual words to set tone and aid in scene transitions is unique in a really great way. Gonzo and Rizzo are also the only characters that make fourth wall breaking jokes or comments aimed at adults.

Michael Caine's Ebenezer Scrooge is imposing and, if 60's Batman camera angles are to be believed, crooked.
           The other part of The Muppet Christmas Carol that really makes it stand out is Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge. He plays the role straight, treating his Muppet co-stars as he would anybody else in their roles. His Scrooge is wonderfully cruel in the beginning and he does a fantastic job of making you feel the change in his heart that is wrought through his travels with the ghosts. It is really impressive how far he melts in to the role. All in all, The Muppet Christmas Carol is a family friendly version of a classic story that has enough wit to make it engaging for all ages rather than just safe for all of them. I'm sure most of your schedules are already pretty packed this close to the main event, but this one gets a strong recommendation if you have the time. See you back here tomorrow.

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