The Muppet's Christmas Carol

The Retro Professor is back in session: Does this film do the classic novel justice?
December 08, 2010
Christmas is on the doorstep once again and I must admit I fell rather ambushed by it. Last year's Christmas went very smooth and organized but this year has been a big annoyance. I'm usually an organized person but I have been up to my neck with work so with all my wisdom I decided to put my Christmas to-do list aside for a while and it's come back to bite me in the ass. I haven't gotten half way through decorating the house with Christmas lights and it's already the beginning of December. What's worse is I haven't even gone Christmas shopping for presents yet which means the gifts on my Christmas list will most likely be off the shelves. Yep I would be lying if I said I'm not slightly stressed out by it all but I suppose it's my fault to begin with.

I might seem like a bit of a Christmas Grinch but don't be fooled if there was an alcohol made of Christmas I'd be in the hospital getting cured for poisoning I absolutely love everything about Christmas, the food, the Christmas lights, the shopping, the Christmas specials that air on television but most of all I love the Christmas spirit everybody seems to have. People just seem to be more kind hearted and friendly this time of year and I make sure to do my part, there's not one door to door charity that I haven't donated to. Yeah it's very safe to say I love everything about Christmas. I might post a few photos of the house fully decorated on the forums if your interested.

I'm no Grinch you hear me!

Anyway I had been browsing through our local rental place looking for a good comedy to relieve my stress when I stumbled upon a big box of ex rentals most of them being Christmas films. I shuffled through the DVD's for a few minutes and managed to come across some terrific Christmas movies so without hesitation I picked up Home Alone, A Christmas Story, Mickies Christmas Special, Elf starring funny man Will Ferrell and Fred Claus which I found to be a pretty decent Christmas movie. I hauled the load onto the counter and bought them all for an easy five dollars. I was about to leave when I came across a clearance bin, I had some time to waist so I ended up taking a look for anything that I would like. Nothing really caught my eye apart from an obscure looking Christmas film sitting comfortably in the corner. I analyses the case and remembered vaguely watching it as a kid on Christmas Eve with my family and complaining about how boring it was. So I threw The Muppets Christmas Carol onto the counter and bought it for a couple of bucks. I left it unwatched for a couple of days ignoring it completely, I suppose a revamp of the classic tale everybody loves with Muppets just didn't seem to interest me. I finally found the time to watch the film and I'm glad I did, The Muppets Christmas Carol is now one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time so let's dive into this review so I can explain why I liked it shall we.

The Retro Professor

The Professor Says: Class be seated


Release Date: December 11, 1992
Run Time: 86 minutes
Distributed By: Disney

The Muppets Christmas Carol was released in 1992 and was directed by Brian Henson who also directed Muppets Treasure Island. Unlike some of the other versions The Muppets Christmas Carol is a musical adaption of the classic tale written by the legendary Charles Dickens. It is the fourth Muppets musical feature and the first to be produced after the tragic death of Jim Henson the creator of the Muppets. The film is a comedy/musical revamp but stays true to its original source.

The story is told by Mr Charles Dickens himself played by Gonzo the Great and his side kick Rizzo the Rat. Christmas has come once again and Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) a money lender who is more concerned about his own pocket then the wonderful holiday at hand. Bob Cratchit played by Kermit the Frog is a loyal employee who convinces Scrooge for the day off on Christmas day so Scrooge agrees and goes home for Christmas Eve annoyed by the towns Christmas spirit. I'm sure everybody is familiar with this classic story so you know what's coming next. Scrooge is haunted by three spirits of Christmas past, present and future, If Scrooge does not turn over a new leaf he will be doomed along with his deceased work partners, the Marley's. This brief recap of the plot might seem very familiar if you have seen any of the other adaption's and that's because the film's storyline is almost identical to the original which is a very good thing, don't change what's not broken I always say. It may seem unoriginal and dull to use the same story that many of its predecessors have used but the film really does benefit from this. It manages to have enough changes to make the adaption unique and interesting without completely butchering the work of Charles Dickens. If they had messed around with it to much it would have been a crime against nature God damn it!

Brian Henson's spirits, I'll give you a
nickel if you can guess which one is death

In the terms of acting this film reminds me very much of Cast Away starring Tom Hanks or even 127 Hours starring James Franco. All these films have one thing in common, for the majority of the movie it's just one actor on screen the only thing that separates them from The Muppets Christmas Carol is the fact that Michael Caine is surrounded by furry puppets. In a movie of this category the actor/actress will truly make or break the film. What made 127 Hours and Cast Away such excellent films were Tom Hanks and James Franco's dazzling performances, they carried the entire movie on their shoulders which is exactly what Michael Caine does in The Muppets Christmas Carol. Michael Caine gives one of his finest performances as Ebenezer Scrooge, he completely embodies his character in every way from Scrooges evil snarl to his uncontrolled temper. I admire his ability to appear cold hearted and dastardly even when he's surrounded by funny looking puppets. You can truly see the hatred in Michael Caines eyes whenever he's on screen and that just goes to show how passionate he is for acting.

BAH! Humbug!

One thing that made Michael Caine's performance so amazing is he starred in what is considered the worst film of all time, Jaws 4: The Revenge only years before. Michael Caine's acting in Jaws was less then favorable. He was very wooden in most scenes and unbelievable in what he was doing, he just down right acted badly. One would think that it would have ruined his career like it did to Lorraine Gary but Michael Caine managed to get back on his feet and produce several terrific films after one of them being The Muppets. I can't really say anything bad about Caine I can only nitpick on very small annoyances I had. His performance as the kind hearted Scrooge at the end of the film was rather charming and believable but it cannot compare with his performance earlier in the film as the black hearted Scrooge. It's sad that Michael Caine didn't get nominated for an academy award, his performance was terrific and I believe he deserved at least a nomination.

The supporting characters where top notch and believable even if they were only a bunch puppets. You'll notice many familiar faces if you're a fan of the Muppets I myself had fun counting all of the characters I had seen in the previous movies and television shows. The original voice actors are all present and accounted for and the many talented voice actors did a fantastic job in supporting Michael Caine throughout the film. A notable standout performance would be from Jerry Nelson who voiced Tiny Tim and the ghost of Christmas present who I found to be my favorite Muppet in the film in the terms of characterization.

Every actor is allowed to star in a God awful movie..
look at John Travolta in Battlefield Earth.. LEAVE ME ALONE!

The set design is amazing once you analyze it all, the amount of action that takes place at the windows, in the gutters, in the doorways and almost everywhere else is terrific and the animation of the puppet characters never cease to be convincing so I take my hat off to the production team. The various props really helped create a gloomy, old looking London street I instantly felt like I was teleported into London on Christmas Eve in the 19th century. The production design fit together perfectly with the catchy, kick ass songs that occur though out the film. One particular song that is defiantly worth mentioning occurs at the beginning of the film, it delivers a very upbeat and a charming song whilst still managing to stay in the mood of the scene. The production design did very well in setting an atmosphere, the little town is so happy and cheery it almost had a warm glow to it and then BAM Scrooge enters the scene and the warm atmosphere instantly becomes a dark and eerie place. The set design and production team along with catchy tunes which the Muppets are known for really help the film keep its pace.

For a silly film with Muppet's the atmosphere really is quite amazing.

I suppose your wanting to know if the film does Charles Dickens Christmas classic justice? My answer: hell freakin' yes. This film exceeded my expectations big time, all the films various aspects are terrific. The plot remained true to Charles work but had enough changes to make it different from its original, Michael Caine plays both sides of Scrooge very well, he embodies both Scrooges black hearted and soulless side as well as Scrooges kind and heart warming side, he's right up there with Alastair Sim and Albert Finney as one of the best Scrooges of all time. The set and production design are the best I have seen in any film for ages and the catchy soundtrack really gets you into the mood of the film. Is it the best adaption you might be asking? No the early films take the cake, you simply cannot compare any Christmas film to Scrooge the classic black and white film that came out in 1951 but that doesn't mean you shouldn't see this excellent film, The Muppets Christmas Carol manages to be both heart warming and funny as well as being very emotional through out it I even shed a tear or two in one particular scene I won't say which. This film is a must see for children or anyone wanting to get into the Christmas spirit you might be missing.

The test results are in


The Retro Professor: Alright class I have decided to give you a pop quiz if you can answer them all correctly bonus marks will be added to your test papers. Everyone must complete the pop quiz, I want you all to achieve the best marks possible.

The class: Aww do we have to sir?

The Retro Professor: Yes but I'll tell you what if your the first to answer all of them correctly I'll let you choose what I review next. I will be assessing you on various things about the film and it's history so please be seated and start your quiz and remember NO TALKING!

10 Questions will be given (you don't have to participate, it's only for a bit of fun but as I said I'll review what ever game or film you want if your first to answer them all correctly oh and you may use the internet to answer them if you like)

1. What is Scrooge most known for saying?

2. How many Christmas spirits are there?

3. Who does Bob Cratchit work for?

4. Bob Cratchit was played by which Muppet?

5. Who played Scrooge in the 1951 film?

6. What was Michael Caines first ever film role?

7. In what year did Charles Dickens write the novel?

8. Who played Scrooges nephew in Mickey's Christmas Carol?

9. In the music video I have provided please tell me how many vegetables there are on the table and what they are singing?

10. In the film what did Scrooge eat for dinner before the Marley brothers arrived?[/b]

The Retro Professor: Pens down I'm afraid times up, you may leave once you have handed in your quiz papers to me.

The Retro Professor: Class dismissed.


Scrooge and The Muppet's wish you a very
Merry Christmas and a happy new year
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