Directed by Brian Henson
Starring Michael Caine, Dave Goelz and Steve Whitmire
Christmas film review by Chris Olson
With so many incarnations of the abominable Scrooge and his Christmas Eve night terrors, it seems every film adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens story needs to have some element of gimmickry or a touch of originality. The Muppets Christmas Carol not only has a unique casting situation (with the majority of the characters being played by colourful puppets) but the Christmas film is also a musical - and a phenomenal one at that.
From the outset the movie creates a brash tone which is synonymous with the Muppets, who are able to transcend the usual confines of human narrative. They regularly break the fourth wall with their two narrators, who are also in the shot rather than performing as an overvoice. Their version also massively picks up on the comedy elements of Dickens' beloved literary classic, even poking fun at the great author himself.
Playing the notorious Scrooge character, though, is not a wisecracking puppet, but instead a rather solemn and affecting Michael Caine. His dour demeanour and violent outbursts are dramatically gripping in the beginning half of the film, and when he experiences the inevitable arc from witnessing the past, present and future of his humbug behaviour, delivers a phenomenal depiction of desperation and redemption. Caine's performance of Ebeneezer Scrooge is the most legendary on film.
The sets are all deliciously festive, capturing a wondrous ye olde England with light touches of snow and bustling streets populated with a bizarre range of Muppets. The blend of a quintessentially British story could have been an uncomfortable mix when coupled with the vibrancy of Jim Henson's creations, but the two fantastic worlds combine beautifully in a coalescence of colour and creativity to regale a new version of this timeless tale of the human spirit. The glue being Caine’s portrayal of Scrooge, which is timeless.
The Muppets Christmas Carol delivers everything you could want from a Christmas film, whilst caring not at all for decorum or grace - such is the way any rendition of a festive film should be.