I generally don’t like Christmas movies. (Some smartass usually makes some quip about Die Hard when this topic comes up, but we’re going to ignore that for the purposes of this piece.) I love Love Actually, actually, but the Christmas movie I treasure above all others is The Muppet Christmas Carol.
There’s no reason at all that it should work. It’s absurd on its face, yet somehow everything contributes to the whole. A friend sent me a link to a look behind the scenes and it confirms what I’ve always thought, that the movie works so well because Michael Caine plays it absolutely straight.
“I’m going to play this movie like I’m working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink, I will never do anything Muppety. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role and there are no puppets around me.”It’s him, but it’s not just him. There many other decisions where the absolute best choice was made, and the whole thing fits together as tightly as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
(It also doesn’t hurt that the story itself is one of the most enduring tales of the past two hundred years. The thing about a Christmas Carol is that, like anything that’s been around for a long time, we forget how powerful a work it is. I’m a sucker for a good story of redemption and maybe one day I’ll be featured in my own, and this is the archetype, the Ur-example that laid down the framework for all that would follow.)
The framing mechanism of Gonzo as Charles Dickens also works really well, and it wouldn’t work without Rizzo. Having them during the visit from final spirit was an inspired decision as well.
The casting of Statler and Waldorf as the Marleys was brilliant.
|That cracks me up every time.|
The music is brilliant.
Using new creations for the ghosts instead of going with established Muppets was absolutely the perfect call.
And, finally, the scene with Kermit as Bob Cratchet, explaining to his children the loss of their brother. It’s astounding how a thing stitched together of cloth and foam can radiate such sorrow and loss.
I picked a spot for Tim where he can see...It-It's a spot on the hill...and you can see the ducks on the river.
Tiny Tim always loved...watching the ducks on the river.
It's all right, children. Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it. I am sure that we shall never forget Tiny Tim, or this first parting that there was among us.
And I'm sure you know the rest. Scrooge wakes up and learns it's not too late to change.
He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.