Christmas may be all but over, but as 2015 is readying to roll itself in, I’d like to try and keep the festive spirit alive for just a small while longer, after all it’s still December, frost is on the ground and decorations should still be hanging. What better way to keep the seasonal splendour ticking than with one of my favourite Christmas movies. A warm, felt treat to entertain all ages.
Using Charles Dickens’ original novella as its basis, this Muppets wonder takes the story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) as he is visited by three ghosts, all with a job to try and show Scrooge what a cold and uncharitable man he is. Now with the splendid aid of puppet favourites Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat as narrators and Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit along with a host of other felt stars the 1843 story of greed, misery and Christmas gets a fun new spin.
I love this film so much. So so much. It’s not just a favourite festive feature of mine, but a loved film in general. Of course it suits around this time of year and especially so as a Xmas Eve watch. The story itself is a poetic and tragic tale incorporating interesting and dark traits of human behaviour and Scrooge still stands as one of the best literary characters to this day. Utilising this classic tale and adding the spice of Muppet madness can only equal success….right? Damn right! The way of blending in Dickens prose thanks to Gonzo and Rizzo alongside the visuals is a neat way of getting children to breathe in a story that may otherwise have evaded them.
One of the big qualities this film has and why I adore this film, is in the fuzzy feeling the songs hold. This is a Xmas movie that does music and lyrics correctly and though a song may have been cut in original edits, others like ‘Scrooge’, ‘It Feels Like Christmas’ and ‘Thankful Heart’ all live to serve the telling of the story in brilliant ways. The first shining a muppety light on the black heart of Ebenezer, the middle being the most warm of the bunch and catchy too and the last giving Michael Caine time to sing and wrap up the message of this story. In fact every song in this film is near perfect if not striking the full 100% perfection mark.
The comedy throughout is so nicely done that it never wholly disturbs the closeness of Dickens’ narrative but it doesn’t detract from the Muppet humour you wish for. Slapstick, wordplay and general silliness all come together to amuse children and entertain the big kid in every grown up, or at least if you’re not as miserly as the tight fisted hand at the grindstone. The spirits are designed well, the ethereal Christmas Past girl being ghostly, innocent and kind, the Christmas Present being knee smackingly jolly and festive and the Christmas Yet to Come is chillingly quiet and haunting for a kids film. Comedy and the tale of goodwill work together and I can never see this film fading as one of my favourites.
Michael Caine is fantastic as Scrooge, refining the begrudging scowling early act of the man in enough measure to appease young viewers to this story, the transformation he goes on is just enough, the flicker in his eyes as he sees himself as a boy leads you in to realise there’s an ounce of warmth in his being and by the end he’s nearly broken, scared into the bleak future he’s made for himself. The Muppets are as zany and a unit as ever, Kermit taking a kind of back seat as the wonderful Great Gonzo tells us the story with help from nutty Rizzo.
This may be a highly opinionated review as I treasure it so much from growing up and attempting to watch it every year but surely most if not all have to agree that it’s a great way to open the pages of a literary gem to younger audiences. Fun, gentle and magically festive. No bah humbug here.