The Muppet Christmas Carol


The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppet Christmas Carol

theatrical release poster
by Drew Struzan
Directed by Brian Henson
Produced by Brian Henson
Martin G. Baker
Jerry Juhl
Frank Oz
David Barron
Screenplay by Jerry Juhl
Based on A Christmas Carol by
Charles Dickens
Starring Michael Caine
Steven Mackintosh
Muppet Performers:
Dave Goelz
Jerry Nelson
Frank Oz
David Rudman
Steve Whitmire
Music by Miles Goodman (score)
Paul Williams (songs)
Cinematography John Fenner
Editing by Michael Jablow
Studio Jim Henson Productions
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date(s) December 11, 1992 (1992-12-11)
Running time 86 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12,000,000
Box office $27,281,507

The Muppet Christmas Carol is a 1992 musical comedy film adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, starring Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, directed by Brian Henson, produced by The Jim Henson Company, and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the fourth of a series of live-action musical feature films starring The Muppets, and the first produced after the sudden death of Muppets creator Jim Henson. Although it is a comedic remake with contemporary songs, it otherwise follows Dickens' original story closely.[1]

Contents

Plot

In this adaptation of the Christmas story narrated by Charles Dickens himself (played by Gonzo the Great) with the occasional commentary of Rizzo the Rat, it is Christmas Eve in 19th century London. The merriment is not shared by Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine), a surly money-lender who is more interested in profit than celebration. So cold to the season of giving is he that his book-keeping staff, including loyal employee Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog), has to plead with him just to have the day off work during Christmas by pointing out that Scrooge would have no customers on the holiday and that it would waste coal to sit alone in the office. Scrooge's nephew, Fred (Steven Mackintosh), arrives to invite his uncle to Christmas dinner and two gentlemen (Bunsen and Beaker) also come to Scrooge's offices, collecting money in the spirit of the season. Scrooge rebuffs his nephew and complains that it isn't worth looking after the poor, as their deaths will decrease the surplus population. Fred is shocked at his uncle's uncharitable and cold nature, but repeats his invitation, makes his own donation, and departs.

Later that evening, Scrooge finds himself face to face with the still mean-spirited spirits of his former business partners, Jacob and Robert Marley (Statler and Waldorf) who have been condemned to shackles in the afterlife as payment for the horrible deeds they committed in life. Nonetheless, they warn him that he will share the same fate, only worse, if he doesn't change his ways, and foretell the coming of three spirits throughout the night.

Scrooge is first visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, a child-like spectre who takes Scrooge on a journey back through time to his youth. He recalls his early school days, during which he focused on his studies; meeting of a young woman named Belle (Meredith Braun), with whom he would later fall in love; and the end of their relationship, despite Scrooge's protests that he would marry her as soon as he feels he has enough money to provide for them, which Belle knows, given Scrooge's birthing obsession with money, he will most likely never have.

Scrooge then meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, a large, festive spirit with a booming voice who lives only for the here and now. He gives Scrooge a glimpse into the holiday celebration of others, including Bob Cratchit (Kermit) and his family who, although poor, are enjoying Christmas together and reveling in the anticipation of the Christmas goose. The Spirit also shows Scrooge's own family, who aren't above cracking jokes at Scrooge's expense.

Finally, Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, a silent entity, who reveals the chilling revelation that young Tiny Tim (Robin the Frog) will not survive the coming year, thanks in no small part to the impoverished existence of the Cratchit family. Furthermore, it is revealed that when Scrooge's own time has passed, others will certainly delight in his absence from the world, with local businessmen attending his funeral only for the free food and that the laundress, the undertaker and the charwoman steal the very clothes he has slept in. Upon seeing his headstone in the cemetery, it is the final epiphany that convinces Scrooge to change his ways, and makes him vow to celebrate with his fellow man. He returns to his bedroom on Christmas Day, and Scrooge goes about the town spreading good deeds and charity. He helps Bean Bunny who he threw a wreath at earlier in the movie and the two gentlemen who ask a donation earlier in the movie get a large donation. Scrooge tells his assistant, Bob Cratchit, that he is going to raise his salary, and pay for his house mortgage. He also plans a feast for Cratchit's family, and learns to adopt the spirit of Christmas throughout the year, now encouraged by the addition of new friends.

Cast

Puppeteers

Production

This film was directed by Jim Henson's son, Brian. Taking over the puppeteering role of Kermit, originally performed by Jim Henson before his death in 1990, was Steve Whitmire. It was shot in Shepperton Studios, England and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[2]

Despite the use of Muppets throughout filming and a humorous spin on much of the story, this film is a fairly close adaptation of the original story. The story proper is interspersed with scenes of a narrator (Gonzo playing Dickens), who, along with the characters, recites many of Dickens's original words. One notable difference from the original story is the addition of Jacob Marley's brother, Robert, who was not present in Dickens' story, to allow the use of both Statler and Wardorf. It is suggested this name was chosen as an oblique reference to musician Bob Marley. Another alteration involved changing the name of the character Fezziwig to Fozziwig, as Fozzie Bear played the role. Another difference is that whilst in the film, the Ghost of Christmas Present is perpetually jolly and cheerful, the novel counterpart was regularly grim and stern to Scrooge. In contrast, this adaption is unusual in that it presents The Ghost of Christmas Present as aging during the course of his visit, as he does in Dickens' novel. The human forms of Ignorance and Want, shown as hideous, animalistic children in the novel, are absent from the film (as is also the case with several other adaptations).

This is the first Muppet film in which the story revolves around characters played by human beings, specifically, Ebenezer Scrooge, as played by Michael Caine. The rest of the cast consisted of mostly Muppet performers. Several pivotal roles — in particular, the three Christmas Spirits — were portrayed by specially-created Muppet characters. It was at one time considered that well-known Muppets would be cast in these roles (Miss Piggy, Scooter, and Gonzo, specifically) before it was decided that it would detract from the ominous effect the spirits would need to convey. Only the Ghost of Christmas Present is clearly a Muppet (albeit a giant one), while the Ghost of Christmas Past is an ethereal childlike spirit and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is a cloaked and terrifying figure as per tradition.

The film was dedicated to the memory of Jim Henson and Richard Hunt, two original Muppet performers, who died before the film's release.

Distribution

This is the first Muppet film co-produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures – and the rights to the Muppets featured in the film would later be purchased by the Disney. Other than the film's theatrical releases, the film has also been made available on home video formats. It was released on VHS September 10, 1993 and twice on DVD in Region 1. The first DVD release on October 8, 2002 was in a fullscreen-only format. The film was re-released on DVD November 29, 2005 in conjunction with Kermit the Frog's 50th anniversary celebration; this time the DVD contained both fullscreen and widescreen presentations. The film was also released in Region 2.

Reception

Disney appeared to have high expectations for the film, being their widest-released film of the holiday season and the second widest release under the Walt Disney Pictures banner that year. Yet despite being a modest box office success, The Muppet Christmas Carol did not make much of an impact during its theatrical release, having to face competition from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Disney's Aladdin. The film grossed a total of $27,281,507 domestically, which would equal about $42.3 million today.

Critical reception, however, was mostly favourable. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 67% of critics gave positive reviews.

Soundtrack

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Soundtrack album by The Muppets
Released 1993
Genre Soundtrack
Label Jim Henson
Professional reviews

The reviews parameter has been deprecated. Please move reviews into the “Reception” section of the article. See Moving reviews into article space.

As with all Muppet movies (except Muppets from Space), The Muppet Christmas Carol was done as a musical. The soundtrack included performances by the Muppet characters as well as Caine. Songs from the film include the following:

  1. "Scrooge" - Muppet performers
  2. "One More Sleep 'Til Christmas" - Kermit the Frog
  3. "Marley and Marley" - Statler and Waldorf
  4. "When Love is Gone" - Meredith Braun
  5. "It Feels Like Christmas" - Ghost of Christmas Present
  6. "Bless Us All" - Robin
  7. "Thankful Heart" - Michael Caine.

The soundtrack album reached #189 on the The Walt Disney Company.

"When Love is Gone"

"When Love is Gone" was a song that was cut from the original 1993 theatrical release by the Disney studio, who believed that the scene would not appeal to young children. The movie plays with an obvious, jarring edit when the film is played with the song missing. Brian Henson objected to their decision, believing that the song was integral to the plot (the concluding song, "When Love is Found," is a direct counterpoint to it), and the song was subsequently restored to the VHS and laserdisc editions. However, it was removed from the first (2005) DVD release and TV airings. This song was also cut from the 10th Anniversary Edition of the film released on DVD (widescreen only; however, the fullscreen version has the song). Two other songs were written but cut from the film; "Room in Your Heart", performed by Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, and "Chairman of the Board", performed by Sam the Eagle. These songs were recorded, but cut from the script before filming began. Both songs appear on the motion picture soundtrack released by Jim Henson Records.

Track listing
  1. "Overture" - Instrumental
  2. "Scrooge" - Cast
  3. "Room in Your Heart" - Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker
  4. "Good King Wenceslas" - Muppet Brass Buskers
  5. "One More Sleep 'til Christmas" - Kermit
  6. "Marley and Marley" - Statler and Waldorf
  7. "Christmas Past" - Miles Goodman
  8. "Chairman of the Board" - Sam the Eagle
  9. "Fozziwig's Party" - Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
  10. "When Love is Gone" - Belle
  11. "It Feels Like Christmas" - Ghost of Christmas Present
  12. "Christmas Scat" - Kermit and Tiny Tim
  13. "Bless Us All" - Tiny Tim and Family
  14. "Christmas Future" - Miles Goodman
  15. "Christmas Morning" - Miles Goodman
  16. "Thankful Heart" - Scrooge
  17. "Finale: When Love Is Found/It Feels Like Christmas" - Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Cast
  18. "When Love Is Gone" - Martina McBride

References

External links



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