A Christmas Carol gets a Muppet Makeover
It's not easy being green, especially when you are a frog and your boss is Ebenezer Scrooge but such is the case of poor Kermit in "The Muppet Christmas Carol" an amusing Muppet eye version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". It's quite strange really, yes the movie is a bit strange, but nope I am on about my relationship with the Muppets as having grown up watching The Muppet Show I never really enjoyed any of the Muppet movies until "The Muppet Christmas Carol" burst on to our screens. Maybe it is my fondness for Dickens' story or the wonderful recreation of a Christmassy bygone era but something about "The Muppet Christmas Carol" works and never grows tiring despite now being over 20 years old.
I am not going to waste time telling you the storyline of "The Muppet Christmas Carol" because Dickens' classic storyline is so well known that it would be poinless. What I will say with the exception of Michael Caine who plays the curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge the rest of the main characters are played by Muppet characters so Kermit the frog is Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy is his wife Emily and we have the wonderful update with Statler & Waldorf playing the ghostly Marley brothers. Whilst there are other Muppet characters who deserve a mention the main one and the main change from the original story is that we have The Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens accompanied by Rizzo the Rat as are guides through the movie with their witty narration and comical interjections.
So here is the thing about "The Muppet Christmas Carol" and something which might annoy purists because unsurprisingly this take on Dickens' Christmas story is all about the fun of the Muppet world. That means we have the general amusement of seeing the various Muppets playing the classic characters but also amusing scenes from the rats at Scrooge's office complaining to Bob that they are too cold then switching immediately into summer gear and start singing "This is my Island in the Sun" when Scrooge threatens them with the sack. That is not the only musical element to the movie and many of these musical numbers adds to the general light heartedness which makes it fun for children and those adults who still have a bit of child in them. But as I said Dickens purists may be annoyed because this is certainly not the dark tale of the classic adaptations and in many ways loses the message of the movie in the midst of all the general fun and frivolity.
It means that "The Muppet Christmas Carol" is in many ways a good introduction to Dickens' classic for younger audiences who might find the darkness of authentic versions over bearing. And trust me when they've watched this version once they will watch it again because it has an infectious nature about it with a wonderful mix of story telling and fun. It also has some wonderful sets which recreate a wintry Dickens era quite magnificently with some amazing detail with things such as shop names that you might miss on the first watch. It is part of the reason why that "The Muppet Christmas Carol" is as entertaining for adults as it is for children because it is a visually rich movie with plenty going on to make you want to watch it again.
As for the acting, well the Muppets do what each of the Muppets do best and it works in each of their characters. But Michael Caine does a stand out job of not only acting with these fluffy puppets but also for playing it straight through out the entire movie. It works well the distinction between the serious Scrooge and the other fun loving characters and although Caine plays it straight it certainly doesn't feel like an over bearing dark performance.
What this all boils down to is that "The Muppet Christmas Carol" is a very magical movie, it may lack some of the finer touches which Jim Henson achieved with The Muppets before he died, but his son Brian has done a very good job of keeping the Muppets alive. Of course being what is basically a Christmas feel good story it will get rolled out during the lead up to Christmas but is enjoyable no matter what time of the year you choose to watch it.