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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
As I mentioned in my Scrooged review, there have been many versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. One of the best, in my opinion, is easily The Muppet Christmas Carol. It is, arguably, one of the closest adaptations to follow the story of the original novel. In addition, while all the same beats are there, the movie is much more kid and family friendly than most adaptations. Not that A Christmas Carol is an adult-only story, but if you look at the original source and many of its movie counterparts, it is not the most inviting to youngsters. This is a great way to get children invested in what ultimately is a timeless classic.
For a Muppet movie, it is also a bit of an anomaly. For starters, it was the first movie to be released after the death of Jim Henson. His son Brian took over directing and Kermit duties. He does well (I am sure he was groomed heavily by his father). It is also the first Muppet movie to be an adaptation of a classic story. The next few Muppet movies after this featured the Muppets adapting various works of literature (with mixed results).
It is also strange because the movie eschews many of the satirical and surreal elements which are usually considered a cornerstone of what makes the Muppets the Muppets. I cannot criticize the film for that, though. Given the story, it would have been completely out of place. The movie is fine as it is.
This is also the only Muppet theatrical movie to not feature any side cameos from at-the-time popular stars. In past installments, random guests would pop-up in various random roles. Here, the cast is primarily the Muppets and features Michael Caine (perfectly cast as Scrooge) as the lone human star. Unusual, but it works.
I really cannot say anything bad about this movie. If you do not like it at all, clearly your inner-child or sense of fun must be dead. If I did have one criticism, it would be that the song at the end of the movie did not quite work. It felt forced, and a bit too mushy for my tastes. Plus, Michael Caine really is not the world’s best vocalist.
This was probably the last good Muppet movie before the 2011 re-launch film. It did modestly at the box office, but was largely crushed by Aladdin and Home Alone 2 (the fact that the Muppets were losing their overall popularity did not help matters). Fortunately, The Muppet Christmas Carol has not been forgotten and continues to be regularly enjoyed by families each holiday year. And I am glad that is the case.