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The Muppet Christmas Carol [RSC Film Club 51]


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I'm pretty sure that Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is one of, if not the most adapted literary work of all time, and this right here is the best of the bunch.  Directed by Brian Henson, son of the legendary Jim Henson, The Muppet Christmas Carol stars Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge with a supporting cast that includes Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy as Bob and Emily Cratchitt, The Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens and Rizzo the Rat as himself.

The Muppet Christmas Carol 1992 U.S. One Sheet Poster - Posteritati Movie  Poster Gallery

Everyone knows this story, but if you've never seen this version before I think you'll be surprised at how faithful this is to the source material.  Michael Caine is genuinely brilliant as Scrooge, playing it straight the whole time.  This is an hilarious, emotional and festive experience with some great songs that truly puts you in the spirit of the season.

Michael Caine Muppets GIF by filmeditor

a furry blue charles dickens who hangs out with a rat?

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What makes this version of A Christmas Carol work, what sells you on this crazy world where humans and muppets coexist, is the performance of Michael Caine as Scrooge.  He plays every single scene straight as an arrow as if he were in a serious production, even on the few occasions where his dialogue strays from the original text - such as the brilliantly delivered line "it's Fozziwig's old rubber chicken factory" - he is always real, never a caricature.  His transformation is also masterfully done.  He is a real menace at the start, his introduction song conveying the fear he commands, and I love the direction of this scene where we don't see his face until the end where he delivers a sneering humbug that would send chills down your spine.  Because of this, when he is transformed at the end, the juxtaposition is all the more miraculous.  When he starts singing at the end, giving gifts to everyone - including some cheeses for the meeses - it makes me feel all fuzzy inside like I've downed half a bottle of whiskey.  

But it's not just Caine who carries this film.  The supporting duo of Gonzo as Charles Dickens and Rizzo as himself are hilarious, and while they are there just to make sure the younger members of the audience are keeping up with the plot, they never talk down to that section of the audience, and they are so funny as a comedic duo that everyone of all ages will love them.  Kermit's performance as Bob Cratchit is also great, totally sincere and loving.  When he starts talking about the plot he picked out for Tiny Tim's grave I started crying like a baby.  

I mentioned it above, but this really is an incredibly faithful adaptation.  Things that you don't see in other versions are in this one, like the appearance of the ghosts, particularly the Ghost of Christmas Present, who was a giant of a man in the book.  And the things that the do add are brilliant.  My favourite little addition is the second Marley brother.  In the book there is only Jacob Marley, but because they wanted Statler and Waldorf - the elderly hecklers - to play this role they needed another name, and they chose Robert.  Bob Marley.  That's f*cking brilliant, and something I never noticed as a kid.  As if this film couldn't be any better, it's also a musical, and a damn good one at that.  Every song is a banger, several make me cry, and they all bring that Christmas sprit to my heart.

I totally love everything about this film.  It could not be improved upon in any way and I never get tired of it, despite having seen it at least thirty times by now.  The spirit of the season in an hour and a half.  10/10

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A great combination of a classic Christmas story and the one of the greatest kids TV shows ever (and one adults enjoyed too). Having Michael Caine as Scrooge works really well. I don't think having a muppet in that role would have worked. It also made the whole thing like an extended episode of the Muppet Show, with Caine as their human special guest star (as was their usual format). I'm not a fan of musical, as most know, but the amount of singing is this was fine for me. I also liked that some of Jim Henson and Frank Oz's other creations got included as the ghosts, and I'm sure I saw the dog from Fraggle Rock (original puppet version) as well.




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