Plot: The story of A Christmas Carol, performed by Michael Caine and the Muppets.
Elephant in the room: “A Very Animated Holiday Special.”
Elephant: “This isn’t animated.”
Elephant: “Plus don’t you primary only review animated stuff anyway?”
Twix: “………………Uhhhhhhhh…..Pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbttttttttttttttttt………The Muppets are animated by the puppeteers, thus it counts.”
Elephant: “…..Wha…..that’s just cheat–”
Twix: “It’s The Muppet Christmas Carol!”
I mentioned in my review of the Flintstones Christmas Carol special that my favorite version of the story was the one performed by the Muppets. Perhaps I should preface this with a disclaimer of bias and say it was partially because it was the first version of the story I ever watched. I still have the VHS of it somewhere. Still, it stayed near and dear to my heart, and upon viewing it this year, I have found that it holds up pretty well.
I will admit, having now seen many more serious versions of the story, seeing the mostly whimsical and comedic version brought to us by the Muppets is a bit of a jarring change, even after following up A Flintstones Christmas Carol, but it’s not unwelcome.
Plus, while they do remove Fanny from the story, they don’t skip out on Tiny Tim or the implications of Yet to Come.
Gonzo and Rizzo are hilarious as ‘Charles Dickens’ and….well, Gonzo and Rizzo, being our narrators for the story. Their parts are still, by far, my favorite parts of the movie. They’re hilarious.
I loved the sets, the costumes, the roles each Muppet was given, and even a bulk of the songs. The writing is spot-on from the novel writings of Dickens to the comedic Muppet elements. Michael Caine also played Scrooge very well, even if sometimes he seemed to be hamming it a bit.
If I had to throw criticisms at it, I’d say I don’t much care for the designs of the spirits. Present’s design was the best. Past freaked me out as a kid and still freaks me out. I like its voice and manner of speech, but the Muppet design is just freaky. Yet to Come had the traditional ‘grim reaper’ look but the costume design just looked off. He looked like a gray geoduck with a big hole in the top…..Dirty Jobs taught me what a geoduck is.
Also, the effects have not aged well….at all. It’s borderline laughable sometimes.
I feel like some of the moments were kinda ruined by the Muppets; most notably I didn’t much care for Statler and Waldorf playing Jacob (and Robert) Marley. Splitting the character into two brothers who inexplicably died at the same time, I guess, is bad enough, but the characters just kinda ruin this ominous moment by…well, being Statler and Waldorf. They show up later as employees of Fezz—Fozziwig’s company, and I think they were just fine being that one role. I just feel like that role was ‘cast’ a bit poorly.
Other than that, I still love this version to bits, and I recommend everyone watch it at least once. It’s great for the Christmas season or just to get a good dose of muppetness. Every time I watch it, I want to track down more Muppets movies. I still have Muppet Treasure Island around here too. Hmm.
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