Today I watched Brian Henson’s The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
I am sure there is a good handful of readers who had hoped it would never come to this, but it was inevitable, Christmas movies but at least It’s the perfect season to return to looking at the Muppet films. Jim Henson sadly passed away two years before this production, so his son, Brian, has taken up the responsibility of heading up this adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. If you live in the English speaking world you have probably heard this story many times; Scrooge, an aggressively pessimistic and selfish rich man, is visited on Christmas eve by three spirits, one of the past, present and future respectively, who try to teach him the error of his ways by enlightening him to the Christmas spirit.
In the modern era, the idea of being accosted by spirits for not being jolly is a much more horrific one, but the themes that this story attributes to Christmas are some of the major hot button political issues of today. Scrooge is rich, he is bad because he mistreats the poor, there is a very obvious message in this narrative supporting charity and compassion for the working class. The inclusion of the Muppet’s irreverent brand of humour does not in any way cover up these themes.
This story is ridiculously ubiquitous, which speaks positively of it’s quality and impact, so the real question is how well are The Muppets integrated? Well I would say it is a rather hit and miss pairing as the Muppets are certainly good at being festive, but the story goes to some slightly macabre places which are much less fitting. If anything the pairing allows for the story to touch on heavier elements of the setting and story with a comedic cushion for younger viewers, it is, after all, a family film. Though as a family film this one feels a bit light on the parent pleasing side of things, unless you really like the original story, The Muppets just don’t add the same level of adult humour as they often do.
A Christmas Carol is a timeless classic and this film certainly tells that story without any major missteps. But the inclusion of The Muppets felt like untapped potential to me, there just isn’t much for them to do other than playing out their roles. The cast all do a great job in their respective roles, especially Michael Caine as Scrooge, so it is interesting to see Kermit in a serious role, but there is an expectation left somewhat unfulfilled by the lack of antics. 3/5