So with the last review of the Home Alone movies we took a look at a pair of movies that perhaps didn’t hold up from my childhood as well as I’d hoped. So how about this time we take things in a different direction and I’ll talk about a movie that actually is better now than I remember it being.
The Muppets Christmas Carol has never been a part of my Christmas rotation. I know it’s a favourite of many, but I honestly hadn’t seen it since not long after it was released on VHS waaaaay back when. I remember thinking it was ok. I don’t remember the details of my opinion, just that I for the most part enjoyed it but never bothered to go back to it. Until now!
Do I really need to get into the storyline of A Christmas Carol? No because you are a functioning human being above the age of two and therefore have heard of it? Excellent that will save us some time here. The Muppets Christmas Carol is a surprisingly faithful retelling of the Dickens’ classic, which is what I ended up enjoying the most about it.
You would assume that The Muppets would turn A Christmas Carol into more or less a parody of the original source material but they really don’t. They tell the story as it’s meant to be, complete with passages straight from the novel. They also aren’t afraid to go dark and serious when they need to. There are beats here that I was genuinely surprised they did, and for a children’s movie it’s actually very commendable to keep the dialogue the way it is in the novel and not make it modern, jokey or stupid. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a large reason I wasn’t a huge fan of it back when it first came out as I could see finding the whole thing a little dry. Now though, it works really, really well.
Of course The Muppets themselves are charming as all hell so there are good gags sprinkled throughout, most provided by Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat as the narrators. There’s a lot of corny shit in there too, but come on that’s to be expected. It wouldn’t be The Muppets otherwise. It’s the good kind of corny though, where you roll your eyes but you’re still having a good time. It’s not like Full House “oh my god my eyes want to puke this is so terrible” corny.
Also why is the Ghost of Christmas Past so god damn terrifying looking? It’s not played by a Muppet but instead it’s this creepy, dead eyed angel cherub thing that really freaks me out and were this my story it wouldn’t go anywhere because I would set that fucking thing on fire the moment I laid eyes on it. The Ghost of Christmas Future is supposed to be the scary one but he pales in comparison to this godless creature.
I can’t believe I went this far and haven’t yet talked about Michael Caine as Scrooge. It’s mentioned in the bonus features that Caine said the key to this movie was to never let it show that you’re acting alongside Muppets, and that they should be treated the same way you would if it were human costars. It’s this thinking that makes the movie work. Caine plays the role completely straight and he is fantastic. He does a seamless transition from uptight asshole Scrooge to super nice Scrooge. And even handles the singing quite well. The movie would not work nearly as well as it does without Caine, though that can be said for almost all movies with him.
Oh yeah there’s music too! And good music! That Marley and Marley song hasn’t left my head in 2 days and it’s actually starting to become a problem. That one is the standout but the songs are all catchy and memorable.
I think that about says everything I want to. This movie is actually far better than I remember. It’s a surprisingly faithful telling of the original story that doesn’t shy away from some of the darker material. Throw in some catchy music, a great central performance by Michael Caine, and some charming ass Muppets, and you have a movie that I finally get the appeal of! Welcome to the world of repeat viewings Muppets Christmas Carol!