REVIEW: The Muppet Christmas Carol

The idea of mixing the wacky pack of the Muppets created by Jim Henson with perhaps the classic Christmas tale by Charles Dickens is quite possibly the most unorthodox idea that has ever been put to screen. It became the first time that the Muppets would feature in their own film adaptation of a classic novel as there would be the releases of The Muppet Treasure Island in 1996 and The Muppet’s Wizard Of Oz. Nevertheless, considering the unusual idea behind it all, The Muppets Christmas Carol turned out an entertaining attempt of re-living the classic story that expresses not only aspects of raw emotion but also adds more comedy within it.

Although the original A Christmas Carol is not classed as part of the comedy genre, the Muppets unravel another side to the story. It consists of numerous running gags (specifically the narration and occasional slapstick storytelling from Gonzo the Great as Charles Dickens and Rizzo the Rat as himself) and with delightful musical songs that makes not only the Muppets pleasurable to watch, but makes Christmas as a whole even more enchanting and magical. There are so many ways where The Muppet Christmas Carol could have flopped and turned out an utter disaster, but it stuck to its target audience and gives a warm hug to both Dickens’ classic tale and the Muppets as a television series as well as puppets.

Michael Caine has been involved in all kinds of films over his career and now he goes on to star in perhaps his most famous family-themed performance of his career as Ebenezer Scrooge. Caine is, of course, one of the most accomplished actors in film history and although he finds his role as Scrooge to be one of his most memorable performances, he could be right about that. However, this role wasn’t entirely as impressive as expected, because Caine doesn’t quite manage to bring forth the cold-hearted and greedy nature of Scrooge’s character as we have previously seen in other adaptations of the book and from the original novel itself. On the other hand, just as Scrooge has changed his ways with the aid of the three Christmas Ghosts, Caine expresses the warmth and delight of an old man on Christmas Day. To be honest, most actors who have portrayed Scrooge are great at portraying either cold-hearted Scrooge or kind and friendly Scrooge, but in the case of Michael Caine, he is perhaps better the latter.

Steven Mackintosh, like Michael Caine, is another actor who is in the film but not voicing one of the Muppets as he portrays Ebenezer Scrooge’s young nephew Fred. As we have always seen throughout every film based on A Christmas Carol and in the book, it is the unusual opposing but personally linked relationship between a kind, ordinary man and a bitter old man during the happiest and most magical event of the year. Despite we don’t see very much of Mackintosh as Fred within the film, he still delivers a satisfactory performance and does well alongside Michael Caine. Finally on to the Muppets who star as their respective roles from the likes of Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim etc. The most extraordinarily but rather ingenious quality about this is that we know it is the Muppets by looking at them despite creator and voice actor Jim Henson died a few years before the release of the film, but deep-down they feel like the real characters from Dicken’s original novel but with perhaps a slightly different approach to them that we hadn’t seen before.

Director Brian Henson is selected charge of behind the camera in his feature film directorial debut as he honours his late father’s work of the Muppets and makes it into a rather underrated but a magical and enchanting Christmas treat. His film is aimed at both audiences – for adults at the current time who saw and liked the Muppets during their childhood and young lives, but also for kids to enjoy and feel the warmth of Christmas. He deserved more credit for his work in this film because of the extraordinary yet delightful concept, which is the film itself. Henson praises his father once more afterwards as he directs The Muppet Treasure Island four years later.

Overall, The Muppet Christmas Carol is an eccentrically beautiful motion picture that is an absolute delight to watch during Christmas season and any other time over the year. It is quite possibly the most underrated Christmas film of all time, but despite that it really is worthy of calling a recommendation for kids and for adults all around the world. If you either love the Muppets in the original TV series and/or the original A Christmas Carol book or other film/TV adaptations of the story, you’ll love this one and will see a whole new side to them that you couldn’t have possibly imagined.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 15/05/2012.

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