The Muppet Christmas Carol
directed by Brian Henson
(Walt Disney, 1992)

Yes, this is another retelling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Despite the fact that this version is peopled almost entirely by Muppets, it seems a little more true to Dickens' original tale than some other versions I've seen. The Great Gonzo, accompanied by the faithful Rizzo the Rat, plays Charles Dickens, narrating the story of Ebenezer Scrooge's fateful Christmas Eve. Kermit the Frog is Bob Cratchit, with Miss Piggy appearing as Mrs. Cratchit (of course). Waldorf and Statler, heckling once more, appear as the Marley Brothers, Jacob and Robert. (Well, they had to use both of them and can you imagine Sam the Eagle as Jacob Marley?) Scrooge is well-played by the human Michael Caine.

Since this is a Muppet movie, there is a lot of singing. The songs really aren't very good; they sound more reminiscent of a school choir than a movie musical, though the Ghost of Christmas Present's tune is rather catchy.

The story progresses as expected, with the visitations by the Marley Brothers (singing -- in one of the better songs -- about the weight of their chains), the delicate, fairy-like Ghost of Christmas Past, the jolly, absent-minded Ghost of Christmas Present, and the fearsome Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. At one point, early in the movie, just after the first appearance of Jacob Marley, Rizzo asks Gonzo if maybe the story isn't too scary for the kids in the audience. "No," Gonzo replies, "it's culture." But later, when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come makes his/her appearance, Gonzo and Rizzo decide that maybe the story is a little scary after all and disappear, leaving the audience to face the ghost with only the dubious presence of Scrooge for company, returning just in time for the finale.

The interplay between Gonzo and Rizzo is the best part of the movie. There is some great comedy here, yet it does not detract from the movie. In fact, of the versions of this story that I have seen filmed, this is definitely my favorite. I had difficulty finding a copy at all, either for sale or rent, but did finally locate a copy at my usual video store (where I checked last, of course). If you can find it, it's definitely a must-rent.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]

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