(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The Muppet Christmas Carol)
Doug (vo): It only figures to celebrate Christmas Day with a Christmas movie, and The Muppet Christmas Carol seems to be a good one to talk about. It's so interesting that for so many younger people, this is their introduction to the classic Charles Dickens tale. I shouldn't say that as a bad thing, seeing how the Mickey Christmas Carol was my introduction to it, and truth be told, it's not a bad way to be introduced. Is it the best way? No, but I think it's still pretty reasonably well done.
Doug (vo): Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Michael Caine, is the town's most hated man. One of his workers, Bob Cratchit, played by Kermit the Frog...and, yes, I know somebody else plays Kermit the Frog, but come on, work with me here...tries to get Christmas Day off to spend with his family. After Scrooge begrudgingly agrees, he's told that he's gonna be haunted by three Ghosts that night, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Each one shows him exactly that, the past, present and future, and slowly over the course of the film, Scrooge starts to realize the importance of Christmas, the importance of being nice, and the importance of sharing his wealth with puppets half his size.
Doug (vo): The film is pretty "by the book" in following the original story. They have Gonzo and Rizzo as the narrators who constantly get beaten up throughout the entire movie. And all the other Muppet characters play the parts that we know from the book. The one that actually has me pissing my pants with laughter is Fozziwig. By God, I swear this whole movie was put together just so they could do that pun. On the whole, it's a decent film, especially when you look at the sets and the atmosphere and the colors. It's clear the focus of the movie was not to tell a great Muppet film, but rather a decent Christmas Carol. Now the downside is, some might find that as a turnoff. As someone who loves The Muppet Movie and The [Great] Muppet Caper and their early films, I really thought there was gonna be a lot more humor to this. Like, if you saw the Muppets do A Christmas Carol on, say, The Muppet Show, you know everything would go wrong. Their personalities would get in the way and it'd be all crazy and stuff would be blowing up and falling apart. But here, it's got to be done more seriously, which isn't a bad thing, I guess, it just doesn't feel that Muppet-ish half the time. But even that's made up for it when they do something actually a little different from the story, stuff that maybe other versions should consider putting in.
[The film's versions of the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Past are shown in several clips]
Doug (vo): One of my favorite additions is that the Ghost of Christmas Present has a bad memory. Why? 'Cause he's always living in the present. So sometimes, he'll repeat things, like he'll introduce himself twice or say a sentence he already said. That's a really clever idea. I also love the design of the Ghost of Christmas Past. That's kind of a baby, but kind of an adult, too. It's sort of ageless.
[A song sequence in the film, called "When Love is Gone", is shown]
Doug (vo): But there are definitely some moments that are by no means terrible, but can definitely be a little awkward. While the songs, for the most part, are pretty damn good, some of them almost sound a little too cleaned up. Like, the "Love is Gone" is sung almost a little too nice. You almost miss the emotion of it.
[Many scenes featuring Michael Caine as Scrooge are shown]
Doug (vo): And let's get to the part that's really gonna make you wanna kill me: I don't think Michael Caine is that great a Scrooge. [An audience gasps in horror] You heard right. I don't think he's awful, but there are just so many moments where I feel like he's really just phoning it in. For example. [A scene where Scrooge dances with the Ghost of Christmas Present is shown] What the fuck is this? [Laughs] It just cracks me up how weird it is. There's also some line deliveries that just feel lazy to me. Like, look at this scene where he just sort of calls Bob Cratchit's name and it just sounds like really bad acting.
Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog): I give you, Mr. Scrooge...
Ebenezer Scrooge: Bob? Bob Cratchit?
Doug (vo): Does anyone else feel that was just kind of half-assed? But the biggest scene, and I mean quite literally the biggest scene, is when he's supposed to break down and change his ways. There's no big music, there's no big visuals for it, it all just relies on his performance. And I'm sorry, it doesn't deliver. I don't feel a thing for this guy.
Ebenezer Scrooge: [Upon seeing his own name on his grave, voice breaking] "Ebenezer Scrooge". [Looks at the Ghost of Christmas Future while crying] I will live my life in the past, the present and the future. I will not shut out the lessons the spirits have taught me.
Doug (vo): I don't entirely blame him as the staging and pacing in this scene is kind of weird, too, but I think of all the other Scrooges and how I felt so bad for them and they just made this such a huge scene, and here, it's just a guy who looks like he's trying to be sad while saying some lines. But with all that said, I'd say only about half of the performance is not very good. There actually is a half that's pretty decent. And strangely enough, a lot of it's in the musical numbers. Michael Caine is not a very good singer, but he actually does put a lot of passion when he's doing the singing roles. He actually does feel very jubilant when he's singing the final song. And I really love the addition of having him sing a duet with the version of his past love*. That's a great idea, and he does it very well.
- [Sadly, that song is not featured officially in the film. It's heavily considered by many to be a deleted scene]
Doug (vo): He also has the threatening look and stamina of a proper Scrooge, so I can't say he's terrible, because when he does something good, it is good. But for me, it's only about half the performance. I don't know. It could very well be that I love Christmas Carol so much and I love the character of Scrooge that I really, really hold them to a high standard. In fact, honestly, I can probably count on my one hand how many great Scrooges I think they really are that I've seen.
Doug (vo): But still, that's not what you're coming to see. You're coming to see the Muppets, and the Muppets do fine. Even though I don't feel like it's a traditional Muppet movie, I do kind of give it credit that it tried to do something really serious. They still address a lot of the dark stuff, they still kill off Tiny Tim. This could so easily be awkward and laughably done, but it's actually pretty legit. And, yeah, like a lot of people, I watch it every year, too. It's a strange combo, but a decent one. The kids will enjoy the puppets, the adults will enjoy the jokes, and the Christmas lovers will enjoy Christmas. Have a wonderful holiday, and possibly pop this film in.
[The film's final scene, showing all the characters, both human and Muppet, coming over to the Cratchits' house for dinner, is shown]