Christmas Netflix Picks: ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’

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The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) ★★★½

When it comes down to the most renown Christmas tales of all-time, Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” is certainly one of them. Countless film adaptations have been released over the years, but none to the likeness of this particular rendition.

Jim Henson’s Muppets come together once again to tell the famous story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) and the three spirits in the 1992 film “The Muppet Christmas Carol.” This time, they turn the story into a musical with short song snippets intertwined into the story.

For those unfamiliar with the Dickens classic, the narrator, who happens to be The Great Gonzo in the film, follows around a grumpy, old businessman named Ebenezer Scrooge who views Christmas as nothing more than a “humbug.”

Late on Christmas Eve, Scrooge receives a visit from the ghost form of his late business partners, Jacob and Robert Marley. Director Brian Henson cleverly added a second partner with a rather humorous name in order to squeeze in Statler and Waldorf, the two pun-filled, critical old men. They tell Scrooge three spirits will visit him in the night, starting at 1 a.m. and proceeding at the top of every hour throughout the night. The rest of the film takes us through the three encounters with the spirits.

The Muppets can hardly be taken seriously, and they are not supposed to be taken seriously in the film. The entire movies sheds a humorous light on the Dickens novel by realizing itself as what it is: a family film. The Great Gonzo opens up the dialogue by speaking to the audience saying, “I’m Charles Dickens,” only to be interrupted by Rizzo the Rat yelling, “No you’re not! You’re all blue and fuzzy!” It is the kind of dumb humor you do not want to laugh at, but there is really not much you can do to resist.

Michael Caine gives a wonderful performance as the film’s sole human headliner. His Ebenezer Scrooge comes across as nasty as a Muppets film requires, but he mainly adapts extremely well to the supporting cast he has to work with. Actors always perform at high levels with a great supporting cast, and quite honestly, Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear are some of the best in the business. In all seriousness, Caine gives a strong performance as Mr. Scrooge.

What makes the Muppet franchise so great is their ability to keep character traits consistent. As previously mentioned, Statler and Waldorf visit Scrooge and spend the entire scene mocking him with their infamous puns. Kermit the Frog – as always – plays the wisest, humblest character in the story as Bob Cratchit. Miss Piggy plays a demanding, sassy woman yet again as Mrs. Cratchit. Their marriage also plays along to the ongoing relationship between the frog and pig. Muppet films are so cleverly written that it almost becomes a game for the audience to predict how their favorite Muppet characters are intertwined into the story. Director Brian Henson even finds a way to weave Swedish Chef into the story!

“The Muppet Christmas Carol” has everything anyone would expect out of a Muppets film: liveliness, irresistible humor and a special element that wants us seeing more of our favorite puppets. Jim Henson created something very special with the Muppets, something that has stood the test of time. Although this movie is over two decades old, it retains a certain freshness that lacks in other renditions of “A Christmas Carol.” Kermit, Miss Piggy, The Great Gonzo and all the other Muppets collaborate to make a fantastic Christmas film filled with laughs and cheer, just what the holiday season is all about.