|What happens when you cross Charles Dickens and Jim Henson's Muppets ? The answer is, of course, The Muppet Christmas Carol.|
The Muppet Christmas Carol was the fourth movie to star The Muppets , and the first produced after the death of Muppets creator Jim Henson.
It was released in 1992, and was one of many film adaptations of Charles Dickens's ĎA Christmas Carol.'
The film was directed by Jim Henson's son, Brian Henson. It marked the younger Henson's directorial debut. Interestingly, in spite of the majority of the cast being puppets, this film is in one sense one of the truest adaptations of the original story. This is because the film is interspersed with scenes of a narrator (Gonzo playing Dickens), who - along with the characters - recites nearly all of Dickens's original lines.
This is the first of the Muppets movies in which the focus of the story revolves around characters played by human beings. Specifically, Michael Caine played Ebenezer Scrooge, Steven Mackintosh portrayed Scrooge's nephew Fred and Meredith Braun played Scrooge's fiancée Belle. The rest of the cast was fleshed out with Muppet performers, including Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as Cratchit's wife, Robin as Tiny Tim, and (almost obviously) Fozzie Bear as "Fozziwig". Notably, several pivotal roles - in particular, the three Christmas Spirits - were portrayed by specially-created Muppet characters.
The Muppet Christmas Carol was done as a musical. The soundtrack included performances by the Muppet characters as well as Caine. Songs from the film include Scrooge by the Muppet performers, There's Only One More Sleep 'Till Christmas by Kermit, Marley and Marley by Statler & Waldorf, When Love is Gone by Meredith Braun, It Feels Like Christmas by the Ghost of Christmas Present, Bless Us All by Robin, and Thankful Heart by Caine.
Charles Dickens's original story did not feature a narrating rat, dancing penguins, or a tadpole on crutches as Tiny Tim. Leave it to the Muppets to correct these grievous oversights. Brian Henson joyfully carries on his father's legacy with this surprising adaptation of Dickens's timeless holiday tale of miserly Scrooge (a game Michael Caine), who learns to stop with the "bah, humbug" and love Christmas after all. There is just the right touch of Muppet mockery. The mostly Muppet cast includes Kermit as Bob Cratchit, with Miss Piggy as his wife (their brood comprises girl pigs and boy frogs). Hecklers Statler and Waldorf steal the show with a song-and-dance extravaganza as the ghosts of the gleefully greedy Marley brothers, Jacob and (get this, reggae fans) Robert. There are also roles for Fozzie Bear, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, and Sam the Eagle. The story's gloomier aspects are lightened up a bit for young audiences.
The story progresses as expected, with the visitations by the Marley Brothers, the delicate, fairy-like Ghost of Christmas Past, the jolly, absent-minded Ghost of Christmas Present, and the fearsome Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. At one point, early in the movie, just after the first appearance of Jacob Marley, Rizzo asks Gonzo if maybe the story isn't too scary for the kids in the audience. "No," Gonzo replies, "it's culture." But later, when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come makes his/her appearance, Gonzo and Rizzo decide that maybe the story is a little scary after all and disappear, leaving the audience to face the ghost with only the dubious presence of Scrooge for company, returning just in time for the finale.
The interplay between Gonzo and Rizzo is the best part of the movie. There is some great comedy here, yet it does not detract from the movie.
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