Welcome to the Rotoscopers Twelve Days Of Christmas! Every day until Christmas Eve, we’ll be taking a look at a holiday-themed piece of animation. Check back each day for a new review!
I hadn’t seen the Muppets’ take on Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol in a long time. I had fond memories of it, I knew I really enjoyed the music and I was pretty excited to watch it again because, come on, the Muppets AND Michael Caine? That’s as good as it gets. I was also a little wary of the movie not being as good as I remembered. But I’m happy to report that not only were my fears unjustified, it’s actually so much better than I thought! Here’s why:
I don’t know about you but I haven’t exactly loved the new Muppet show on ABC. It’s a bit too normal, too common. What I want from the Muppets is insanity, puns, lots of laughs and great songs. Luckily The Muppets Christmas Carol delivers all of these things and more. The story is told by the Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens. He’s accompanied by Rizzo the Rat at all times and they serve both as storytellers, comic relief and an escape from the spookier bits of the story.
All the usual Muppets have roles in the movie, the highlight being Statler and Waldorf as the Marley brothers, who come to warn Scrooge of the spirits that are to visit him that night. They do this through one of many great songs in the movie. They’re also hilarious, as is every single character that’s not just plain scary (more on that later). It’s just a really, really good Muppet movie. It has everything that makes them special.
When I was a kid, I used to be terrified of this story. My dad had to read it to me making up jokes to make it lighter. And even though I’m not scared of it anymore, there are still parts that are spooky. Luckily director Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson, to whom the movie is dedicated) has no problem balancing the funny, creepy and sad parts of the story and changes from one mood to another with a deft touch. This is actually one of my favorite thing about animation: That it’s never constricted to a single genre. Most movies are funny. Many have heartbreaking moments. Some can have amazing action scenes. Some are scary. Some are all of these things put together. They’re a rollercoaster and this movie is a really entertaining one.
It’s also worth mentioning Michael Caine is phenomenal as Scrooge in this. He’s scary at first and then vulnerable as the spirits show him his Christmas Days of past, present and future. There’s a moment in his nephew’s party where he doesn’t say a word but your heart shatters into a million pieces. It’s moments like this that elevate the movie into something better than just a funny version of a classic tale. And Gonzo and Rizzo are always there to lift our moods after sad moments and it works beautifully.
The puppetry is outstanding, as usual, and there are moments I had to stop and remind myself that these were puppets and they were making me feel all sorts of things. The production design is so great the director can’t help but show off in the opening scene and the script if packed with great jokes, and emotional moments. It’s just great filmmaking.
As I already said, I used to be scared of this story. Particularly of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. He always just stands there and shows Scrooge terrifying things by pointing at them. He’s scary in this movie too. So much, in fact, that Gonzo and Rizzo can’t deal with it and say that we’re on our own until the finale. This works wonders because it’s a moment in the story where comic relief would be out of place.
I was prepared to be scared by that spirit but I did not remember the Ghost of Christmas Past. I was all happy watching the Muppets do zany stuff and Michael Caine be mean and scary and suddenly this things shows up.
That’s a seriously creepy ghost. Every time it showed up or spoke I was terrified. I thought the Other Mother from Coraline was the scariest thing I had seen in an animated movie but nope! How very wrong I was. This is much worse. Just look at it! (But not for too long or it will eat your soul).
In spite of the horrific spirits, I had a blast watching the movie. It made me feel for the characters, it made me laugh and it eft humming a bunch of fantastic songs. I thoroughly recommend seeing this during the Christmas season. There are lots of things to enjoy for people of all ages and if you haven’t seen it in a while, it will pleasantly surprise you.