Part #5 of the 2016 Christmas Countdown.
An excellent turn from Sir Michael Caine, accompanied by the always entertaining menagerie of muppets, make The Muppet Christmas Carol a thoroughly enjoyable film.
It’s Christmas Eve and miserly money-lender Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) goes about his business as usual. Stony, cold and seemingly unwilling to take part in the festivities going on around him, Scrooge becomes more and more malevolent as the day goes on.
Later that night, Scrooge encounters the ghosts of his old employers Robert and Jacob Marley (Waldorf and Statler respectively). They warn him that if he is to avoid the same fate as them, he must mend his wicked ways. They inform him that he will soon be visited by three ghosts who will attempt to guide him on his path to repentance.
By now, we all know the story of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. This version stays surprisingly true to the source material, but injects more humour into it with the inclusion of popular muppet characters. Kermit and Miss Piggy, the two main attractions of most muppet ventures, are relegated to supporting characters Bob and Emily Cratchit. It’s not a relegation in a negative way, it’s more an acceptance of the immense talent of Michael Caine and allowing his brilliant performance to take centre stage.
This is darker than one would expect for a muppet movie, but then it was the first one released after the death of creator Jim Henson. The void left in Henson’s wake is suitably reflected in the grim, drizzly setting of Victorian London. Jim’s son, Brian, shows a confidence and flair as director and handles the darker material well, but never loses the entertainment factor of a traditional muppet film.
One of the best retellings of Charles Dickens’s classic novel, which, considering the number of times it has been told, is saying something. The perfect festive film.