Dir: Brian Henson, 1992
Charles Dickens’ everlasting classic, A Christmas Carol, has been adapted hundreds of times for the cinema, theatre and television.
The story has been, and still is, used as a narrative for contemporary audiences.
To play the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is quite an honour, and one that actors seldom turn down.
Who played the best Scrooge, is an argument that still rages. Whether it’s Walter R. Booth’s first cinematic adaptation, way back in 1901, Alistair Sim in the 1951 version or Albert Finney in the 1970 Leslie Bricusse musical, the debate continues.
Esteemed and highly respected actors, such as George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, Jim Carrey and, even, Kelsey Grammer have all tested their acting chops portraying the miserable Christmas hater.
Believe it or not, ex-soap star Ross Kemp had a go, playing a loan shark called Eddie in a little seen updating of the classic for ITV.
But, for my money, Michael Caine’s portrayal is the best of them all.
This is a role that, sadly, gets neglected in favour of his more famous back catalogue; Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File, Alfie in Alfie or Charlie Croker in The Italian Job.
Caine is amazing in the starring role. Despite not being able to hold a single note, his lack of musical ability doesn’t hinder the film, or detract from his excellent character work.
The Muppets tend to irk a little bit, but not here. Here, they are fun, joyful and entertaining.
As a musical, the songs are catchy, memorable and uplifting.
Director Henson (son of Jim, creator of the Muppets) does a great job of balancing the joy and the sadness in Dickens’s tale without being too heavy handed on either side.
However, he did make one decision which splits opinion.
During the break up scene between Ebenezer and Belle, a song occured titled When Love Has Gone. Prior to the theatrical release, the song was removed but reinstated for the video.
It’s this version that people remember fondly, so were dismayed and confused when the song was missing on television airings and the DVD.
As it stands, only the theatrical version is currently available, unless you get the US region 1 DVD which has both versions, but the extended cut is in full screen only.
Not many films can truly call themselves “family fair” but this one can. There is nothing adult, suggestive or scary and parents can happily allow their little ones to watch it, unsupervised.
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a happy, jolly, feel good movie that’s got something for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re an adult, child or stroppy teenager.
A wonderful film to watch on Christmas eve.