Christmas Carol: The Movie (2001)
Christmas Carol: The Children's Movie
So I've watched and reviewed quite a few "Christmas Carol" movies yet up until now I have never seen an animation version of Dickens' great tale and "Christmas Carol: The Movie", what a poor title, left me in a quandary. On one hand I liked that this was an old fashioned animation where the scenery is full of detail yet the characters are quite simplistic, it reminded me of the cartoons from my childhood and as such it sort of works as an introduction to Dickens' story for a young audience. But whilst I hope it would work for young children as an adult it often annoyed me, the various changes in the storyline were aggravating and some of the actors who were chosen to voice the characters would not have been on my list.
Now whilst "Christmas Carol: The Movie" is an animation it has a sort of amusing set up as Charles Dickens, played by Simon Callow. arrives in Boston, 1867 to do a reading of his story "A Christmas Carol" to a theatre. It is an entertaining idea which could have been better used if it wasn't spoiled by the introduction of a mouse, and there are more mice in this movie including one who is a friend of Scrooge which is simply wrong. After the set up it switches to the old fashioned style animation and gets in to the familiar story although with some rewrites such as a scene which sees Scrooge throwing water over carol singers, one of which is Tiny Tim. We also have Belle working at a Children's Hospital who tries to persuade Scrooge to help as the Doctor owes him money.
Now to be honest I think "Christmas Carol: The Movie" works as a movie to introduce young children to Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", simplifying it to a more understandable level. The whole big concept of wasted years turns into more of a reward set up for changing his ways which is more understandable for young children. And whilst children these days may prefer CGI animations there is something simply charming about this old fashioned style. Even the horror aspect with the ghosts is toned down enough so that it isn't too scary for the very young.
But my advice is that if you are a fan of Dickens' story and are not a child then give this animated version a miss. The alterations will end up annoying you especially the various scenes which involve mice and the development of Belle's character will also frustrate. It most certainly isn't a version for those who are traditionalists despite the traditional animation styling.
What saves "Christmas Carol: The Movie" for adults will be the choice of actors to do the voice work with the thespian tones of Simon Callow well chosen for Scrooge as well as playing Dickens in the opening scenes. Kate Winslet, Jane Horrocks and Michael Gambon are also well chosen to do the voices of Belle, and a couple of the ghosts. But then there is Nicolas Cage voicing Marley and whilst I am sure the intention was to make this a movie which appeals to a young American audience Cage's tone is out of place next to the British accents.
What this all boils down to is that if you are looking for a way to introduce Charles Dickens' famous story to young children then "Christmas Carol: The Movie" will do the job. But it is really a movie for children only as for fans of the story the variations will end up becoming annoying.
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